Hearing on TADs favorable
BOC hears comments on tax allocation districts

LAWRENCEVILLE - Patrick Malone wrote letters to the editor trying to persuade people to vote against a redevelopment funding mechanism on ballots in July.

But Tuesday, as commissioners took comments on three proposed tax allocation districts in southern and western Gwinnett, Malone stood in support of the idea.

The proposals - which would set aside any increase in tax value in the areas for redevelopment projects - could create more than 30,000 permanent jobs, not to mention the 21,000 construction jobs in the Gwinnett Village project alone, officials said.

Malone, of Snellville, described himself as a "vocal opponent" of the tax allocation districts in the past, but he said he supported the Gwinnett Village plan, which includes the Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Indian Trail Road corridors and Interstate 85.

"In my opinion, there's a logical opinion for each rationale," he said.

During the public hearings, no one spoke in opposition to the districts, which officials said are the only way some of Gwinnett's oldest areas could be redeveloped.

"This is a very valuable economic development tool," said Michael Paris of the Council for Quality Growth.

Officials from the county's Community Improvement Districts also presented plans for the Gwinnett Place mall area and for U.S. Highway 78 between Stone Mountain and Snellville.

If commissioners approve resolutions in two weeks, the redevelopment plans for each area will be set, and 2008 property values will become a base for county collection. Any increases in the tax values from redevelopment will be set aside for projects, including road and bridge improvements, parks, parking decks or other infrastructure. In the future, commissioners could consider issuing bonds for those projects based on the expected increase in value.

"It's been a two-year journey," Chairman Charles Bannister said about the decision to implement the redevelopment tool in Gwinnett. "I think we can all agree the future is brighter with these tax allocation districts."

A process has not been set since voters approved a constitutional amendment last month allowing school districts to agree to allow their taxes to be used for redevelopment, but 10 of Gwinnett's cities have adopted the use of tax allocation districts. Four districts have been created, including a Norcross area adjacent to the Gwinnett Village proposal.