Houston County entities to meet on Warner Robins tax allocation district

chwright@macon.comMarch 18, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- A meeting of all Houston County governmental bodies needed to create special tax districts in Warner Robins is being scheduled, Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Gary Lee said.

Lee told The Telegraph about the plans Monday after a precouncil meeting in which he proposed a study that would prioritize city redevelopment. The study likely would include the tax allocation district Lee hopes to establish this year.

“Everybody has agreed they want to do it,” Lee said of the meeting.

The city’s plans to establish a TAD along the east end of Watson Boulevard fell apart late last year when the Houston County Board of Education declined to participate. Board members, given just a day to decide, said they needed more time to make such a big decision.

A tax allocation district allows the city to use property tax revenue from increased property values for redevelopment within the district. Experts have said the districts are only viable if the school district and county also agree to give up their share of the increased taxes.

“We assumed that (the) board of education kind of knew about TADs and stuff like that, so we kind of squished it into a power session. And those things happen,” Lee said. “What it does is it gives us time to do it.”

The meeting, which would include the city, county and school board, should occur well before June, Lee said.

The paperwork to establish the TAD must reach the state Department of Revenue by Dec. 31 for it to be established for 2014.

Part of last year’s TAD preparations included an updated redevelopment plan. It’s the fourth plan in the past five years.

Lee proposed a study Monday evening that would meld the plans together and establish a blueprint for what city officials refer to as the Watson Corridor. It includes City Hall, the Recreation Department and Commercial Circle. It is the same area proposed for the TAD.

According to the document provided to City Council, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia would conduct reviews of each plan, interview city officials, plan a four-hour retreat with council and recommend a design plan.

The proposed price is $17,500, though Lee said it’s not a final price. He said he aimed Monday only to notify the council of a possibility.

“We have to engage them, and they have to be a part of this process,” Lee said. “Because that’s the only way we’re going to get anything accomplished.”

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