Tax district question on November ballot

When Henry County voters head to the polls this November, a local referendum will be the last question on their ballot. If approved, the Henry County Board of Commissioners and municipalities within the county will be granted new authorities to create tax allocation districts and finance improvements within the districts.

What are tax allocation districts?

Tax allocation districts, or TADs, are a development tool used by local governments. The creation of a TAD allows the local government to bond funds against future increases in property tax collections to cover the cost of infrastructure improvements.

Examples of potential projects include the following:

  • New parks, recreation facilities, and open spaces
  • Pathways and trails, many linking the area’s parks
  • Roadway improvements and enhancements
  • Sidewalk and pedestrian-friendly streetscape improvements
  • Land assemblages and / or site preparation for private commercial and residential development construction of new public facilities
  • Improvements to the area’s basic water, sewer and transportation infrastructure

The above list is copied from the Central Clayton Commercial Corridors Redevelopment Area and Tax Allocation District plan.

The goal behind a TAD is to encourage private development or redevelopment within the area by making publicly-financed improvements. An example is Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta, where the city used a TAD to remove soil contamination from a long-shuttered steel mill, clearing the way for a mixed use development (Flagpole.com September 2020).

Will property taxes increase inside of a TAD?

No. Unlike a community improvement district (CID) or special tax district, there is no increase to the millage rate when a tax allocation district is formed. Instead, the existing property tax collections are set as the base amount and continue to be remitted to the local government general fund. As new development occurs, the increase in property tax collections is used to pay off the cost of either pay-as-you-go infrastructure improvements or bonds if the infrastructure improvements were financed up front.

Where would TADs be established?

There’s no exact answer to where the county (or any of the four cities) may establish a tax allocation district. Henry County hired Tunnell-Spangler & Associates, Inc. in February 2019 to complete a megasite master plan around Atlanta Motor Speedway and evaluate the feasibility of TADs within the county; however, no updates have been given on that study since December 2019 when two major events created uncertainty in the megasite’s future.

Presentation slide from December 2019 discussing tax allocation districts (Henry County photo)
Presentation slide from December 2019 (Henry County photo)

At the time, two possible areas had been identified for TADs during the consultant’s initial screening: the North Henry corridor, located around the intersection of state route 138 and US 23 / SR 42, and the Jodeco Road corridor. The areas qualified based on the age of existing commercial structures and the possible opportunity for redevelopment.

What led to the referendum, and what language appears on the ballot?

The ballot referendum is the result of house bill 1249 passed during this year’s legislative session — sponsored by members of the Henry County legislative delegation — and signed by Governor Kemp on June 30. The referendum would provide Henry County and its municipalities with the authority to create tax allocation districts.

The following language appears on the November ballot:

Shall the Act be approved which authorizes Henry County, Georgia, and each municipality located within Henry County, to exercise all redevelopment powers allowed under the “Redevelopment Powers Law,” as it may be amended from time to time?

House Bill 1249

A YES vote would allow Henry County and the four cities to create tax allocation districts. A NO vote would reject the proposed powers.

Be sure and visit our elections home page for more information about the November 2020 election.