The Development Authority created a storm of controversy this fall after granting a tax break to a proposed John Williams development to be built down the road from the new Atlanta Braves stadium even though county chairman Tim Lee said development did not meet the county’s guidelines for tax incentives.
“The issue for the delegation is, ‘Who decides?’’’ Golick told the MDJ on Tuesday, referencing how in routine zoning cases the appointed Planning Commission makes a recommendation but the Board of Commissioners has final approval. That’s not the case under the statute governing the Development Authority, which does not require the Board of Commissioners to ratify a decision that impacts tax collection.
“In order to achieve clear lines of accountability, that needs to change, and my sense is that there will be bi-partisan support for that amendment,” Golick said. “The question of whether or not a particular project is worthy of special tax treatment is not a matter for the delegation to consider. That question properly rests solely in the hands of the elected and accountable county commission as it relates to county taxes.”
Golick said state Sen. Lindsay Tippins (R-west Cobb) made a good point on Monday when he questioned the constitutionality of the Development Authority giving out tax breaks that impact school district revenues when the school district doesn’t have representation on the authority.
“Even if we amend the statute to require the county commission to make the final decision on a Development Authority recommendation regarding special tax treatment, is it proper for the county commission to make a final decision that ultimately impacts the school board’s revenue?” Golick asked, saying, “more research is needed, but my sense is that school board approval may be necessary in order to be consistent as well as to keep the boundary lines between the county commission and school board very clear.”
Before legislation is filed, Golick, who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, said more discussion is needed within Cobb’s 21-member delegation on how far the changes need to go.
The delegation will meet with Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and Cobb Board of Education Chairman Randy Scamihorn at 9:30 a.m. this morning at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia, located at 48 Henderson Street in Marietta.