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School board not opposed to TADs

As Tuesday's Georgia Primary and Special Election nears, citizens are paying close attention to the candidates and issues on the ballot. One of the issues is a proposal to allow Gwinnett County to exercise its powers under the state's "Redevelopment Powers Law."

If voters approve the measure, the county would be allowed to create tax allocation districts, or TADs, to fund revitalization in older, developed but declining areas of unincorporated Gwinnett.

Voters are interested in knowing the Gwinnett County Board of Education's position on this proposed economic development initiative. The board does not oppose in concept the creation of tax allocation districts. In an area where the tax base is eroding due to declining property values, the establishment of a TAD could benefit economically a community and its schools. A TAD used appropriately has the potential to enhance an area's tax base, resulting in more revenue to support schools.

The inclusion of school taxes in a TAD is currently not allowed, based on a ruling in February by the Georgia Supreme Court. A constitutional amendment on the November ballot statewide seeks approval to allow school taxes to be included. Should the amendment pass, however, school boards would retain the right to determine whether to participate in a proposed TAD.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education has maintained from the outset that it would evaluate any proposed tax allocation district on an individual basis, weighing the long-term benefits to the county's schools versus the short-term loss of tax revenue. The board may agree to participate in some TADS and decline to participate in others, based on the individual merits of each proposal.

That said, the Gwinnett County Board of Education does not oppose allowing the county access to TADs as an economic development tool. Voters are encouraged to become fully informed on the TADs issue before casting their votes Tuesday and Nov. 4.

Carole C. Boyce is the 2008 chairman of the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

J. Alvin Wilbanks is the CEO/superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools.