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Comment Archives: Stories: News & Views: Fresh Loaf

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

@ MBlau
""They" would push for future referenda once this one is complete. (Every 4-5 years, they say, the cycle would start over)."

"They" are pulling your leg and kicking the can down the road for another Mayor to worry about. If the City had a real expectation of having more money to repay bonds, they would have made this one bigger.

At the rate "they" propose, it would be 2027-2030 before "they" would issue bonds to replace the last of today's $1+ billion decayed infrastructure. In the interim, the list of decayed infrastructure would get even larger.

Posted by Burroughston Broch on 07/09/2014 at 9:37 PM

Re: “Can everyone win in the APS/Beltline dispute?

Cassie - the folks who at the start of the Beltline pipe dream were most adept at parsing the high finance that was/not going on have all flown the coop for greener pastures out of Atlanta. I don't have time to go thru my back emails that might have info to help explain (I've got scads going back to 2005). There were serious reservations voiced at ABOE vote about amount of long-term revenue being given up for short term cash in hand, but the vote went thru, thanks in part to Mark Riley (who didn't win re-election this last go-round btw). Four months later, APS jacked property taxes to start to recoup all the $$ they left on the tax table for the City. It wasn't a "some" kinda amount. It was a substantial sum.

The books were cooked on the Beltline TAD at the get go, it was plain as day, and everyone with any knowledge of higher finance knew it. It was common discussion amongst the intowners who were opposed to the Beltline juggernaut (not the idea, but the implementation, like renigging on most the affordable housing mandates to dropping any serious push on transit for years, to forcing higher density rezoning on major property owners over their strenuous objections, on down). They way it was structured didn't meet state mandates for a TAD. [This was after the City was caught playing fast and loose with Westside TAD $$ and parking decks for the friends and family clan.] Shirley Franklin's Chief of Staff got up in front of business people and said 'property values will never go down.' These were the folks in charge, and still are.

I find it interesting that the Beltline will promote socioeconomic integration - is this before or after property values escalate such that the taxes drive out the elderly (seeing another round of that in Midtown) and the poor (people complaining in Cabbagetown) and the substantial reduction in affordable housing quotas that APN was closely covering for so long? Or did you just not read the coverage of all the nasty meetings that went down b/w housing advocates and ABI ->?

I don't believe that the negotiations were "speculative" b/c no one knew how the Beltline was going to develop. That's just a crock. Riley, while he arm twisted ABOE to vote for the TAD had to recuse himself b/c he owned commercial property along the Beltline so he would see personal benefit from the TAD passing (via rising property values). The rezoning was being pushed at same time in 2005, so everyone knew years and years ago what was to happen. Everyone w/any $$ just waited to see what was going to happen when. Smart money is patient. Just like what's going on along Memorial Drive now. Developers have been patient since the downturn, they're now quietly snarfing up everything they can. Esp now the cat's outa the bag about the trolley line.

The project of will be built at a slower pace b/c Reed directed the major fund grant writing to be switched from the Beltline to the Downtown Trolley. What was that, a Tiger grant? Can't remember. Not b/c APS wants its money. City had no problem paying Wayne Mason - it can pay its own kids and their tax paying parents.

There are other points of this article I disagree with, such as implicating APS as the reason all the major projects on the Beltline were done with outside money (as opposed to the City squandering huge chunks of $$ on bad real estate deals, like Wayne Mason and Vulcan Quarry), but I don't have the brain space to rough up the shine job.

The chickens are coming home to roost, and it ain't APS's fault.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by oh puke more kool-aid on 07/09/2014 at 8:20 PM

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

@Burroughston Broch: "They" would push for future referenda once this one is complete. (Every 4-5 years, they say, the cycle would start over).

Posted by MBlau on 07/09/2014 at 8:11 PM

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

"Weyandt told residents that City Hall wouldn’t simply tackle the worst problems first and work down the list."

If funds are limited, why not tackle the worst problems first? Smells funny already.

I'd fix the hole in my roof before I painted the living room and put in new hardwoods.

Posted by Brecko77 on 07/09/2014 at 7:33 PM

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

@ MBlau
"They'll get to lower priority things in subsequent bond packages, they say."

"They" only have the income to finance replacement of 1/4 of the $1+ billion of decayed infrastructure. Where are "they" going to get the income to replace the remaining 3/4?

Posted by Burroughston Broch on 07/09/2014 at 6:24 PM

Re: “First Slice 7/9/14: Georgia moves one step closer to medical marijuana trials

Whenever I take a moment to relax over a beer or socialize over a couple of wines I'm reminded of the fact that marijuana is a far less-harmful and less-addictive alternative to alcohol. It's so unfortunate then that people in this country are arrested for the "crime" of wanting to put their safety first and choose the option that causes the least amount of harm. Surely our legislators shouldn't have the right to do this to us?

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by jway on 07/09/2014 at 6:14 PM

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

One worthwhile item on the list would be sidewalk lighting, starting in high-pedestrian traffic areas. Light is a significant deterrent to crime (which is why most incidents take place after the sun goes down). Sidewalk lights are not the same as streetlights; we have lots of places where there are plenty of streetlights shining on the roads (even though cars have headlights) while the adjacent sidewalks are dark. Walk around any pedestrian-friendly city and you'll notice they pay close attention to these things.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by BPJ on 07/09/2014 at 5:07 PM

Re: “Can everyone win in the APS/Beltline dispute?

At the end of the day, City taxpayers are on the hook for all of the money. Regardless of which path the money took on its way to the Beltline, it all came from the taxpayers.

Cassie, I like the way you think. A simultaneous forensic audit of APS, InvestAtlanta, and the Beltline should illuminate any creative accounting and malfeasance. A similar method was used to catch former banker and Democratic politician Jake Butcher in Tennessee. From Wikipedia:

Knoxville federal and state bank investigators had long suspected that Butcher was engaged in unlawful banking practices. On 1 November 1982, 180 federal bank regulators from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation simultaneously raided all of the Butcher brothers' 29 bank branches and offices, thereby preventing transfers of funds to cover their tracks. Bank records ultimately led investigators on a paper trail of illegal loans, forged documents and various other forms of fraud. The United American Bank collapsed on 14 February 1983. It was the fourth-largest bank failure in US history up to that time. Seven other Butcher-controlled banks and the Southern Industrial Banking Corporation, a state licensed loan and thrift company run by C.H. Butcher, also became insolvent during the rest of 1983, and an additional three banks in 1984. The FDIC estimated that its losses in connection with the failed Butcher brother banks would total approximately $382.6 million. Later that year, it was learned that Butcher was also insolvent; his assets were listed at $11.9 million and his liabilities at $32.5 million.

Posted by Burroughston Broch on 07/09/2014 at 4:49 PM

Re: “Can everyone win in the APS/Beltline dispute?

Here's an input for the $250 million bond initiative. Include an item to fund the beltline (at least) the amount needed to pay APS it's payment and call it done.

Posted by Nolacatwoman on 07/09/2014 at 4:46 PM

Re: “Little Five Points grows up, gets its own CID to potentially fund parking deck, traffic signals, bus circulator

Balance is good, Darin. I concur. I'm a pedestrian and a cyclist as well as a driver.

"A more balanced built environment would be one that's as easy to walk/bike in as it is to drive in."

The balance is not 50/50 because it's the 21st century and we use cars more than we do the other and because it's a large city, not a small town. All these desirable things are exactly what you find in a small town. Walkabilty, calm traffic etc. You want big time happenin' town or all that other stuff? Atlanta is great because it has more of that small town livability than most big cities but not enough for some people, I guess.

But it is unbalanced...not in a civil engineering way...to want to shrink a major road to one lane or to build planters in the middle of the street. I was trying to turn left in Asheville the other day, where they really gaga for this "traffic diet" crap, and I was nearly wiped out by the oncoming driver because neither of us could see the other through the STUPID PLANTER in the middle of the street built right where the street became intersection. Absolute lunacy.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by oydave on 07/09/2014 at 4:29 PM

Re: “First Slice 7/9/14: Georgia moves one step closer to medical marijuana trials

God knows Atlanta could use wider roads. I'm not getting enough cardio crossing the street.

Posted by MC W on 07/09/2014 at 4:27 PM

Re: “Little Five Points grows up, gets its own CID to potentially fund parking deck, traffic signals, bus circulator

Sky buckets, if teenagers working at Six flags can handle them surely the city can.

And any dimwit in a skyscraper can look out the window and see that a street car should run straight up P'tree, just like it used to.

Posted by Monkey see on 07/09/2014 at 3:25 PM

Re: “Can everyone win in the APS/Beltline dispute?

Here's the part that confuses me deeply:

"During the time of the legal challenge, about $26 million in property tax revenue that would’ve gone to the Beltline was held in escrow and not invested in the project. Some say those funds were pledged to be returned to the Beltline. The state legislature, when amending the constitution to allow the use of school taxes for TADs, made it possible for those funds to be applied retroactively.

Still, APS and city officials ultimately signed a new contract in 2009 agreeing to let APS keep the funds — a mix of escrowed and 2009 TAD dollars.

According to that agreement, the money wasn’t credited toward the Beltline’s debt."

So...APS pocketed $26 million that had been earmarked for the Beltline, and that was just the end of it? Am I missing something?

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Cassie on 07/09/2014 at 3:22 PM

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

Expect that some of the "decayed" infrastructure to be replaced will in fact be new infrastructure associated with the new Taj MaBlank.
Expect that other "decayed" infrastructure projects will instead be new infrastructure to pay off various City Council members and other assorted politicians.
I will be surprised if this bond issue reduces the $1+ billion list of real decayed infrastructure by more than $150 million.

7 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Burroughston Broch on 07/09/2014 at 2:50 PM

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

I wholeheartedly support the need for bridge replacements, resurfacing, etc. However, I feel some major roads that are not used just by City of Atlanta residents but also are major roads used by suburbanites to travel into the city should be partially funded by GDOT and partially funded by this referendum should they end up on the list. For example, Decatur Street/DeKalb Avenue is a heavily used east/west road from DeKalb County right to Downtown. The road isn't used just by Atlanta residents, but also by DeKalb residents who ultimately won't be on the hook for the payment of the bonds. This is one of many examples but I'd like to see some cost sharing agreement on some of the major roads and some of the other funds can be used to do more work on other improvements in the city.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jarr_in_ATL on 07/09/2014 at 2:04 PM

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

The idea is to have a list of projects before the referendum, right? So we'll know exactly what we're voting for before committing the funds.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Ira on 07/09/2014 at 1:48 PM

Re: “Can everyone win in the APS/Beltline dispute?

Wonder how much of Reed's $250 million infrastructure bond would be controlled by the wunderkids at InvestAtlanta. With that kind of cash they could afford to buy an internet controlled deluxe stampomatic to replace the current worn out rubber stamp.

7 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Reed doesn't care about common people on 07/09/2014 at 1:10 PM

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

Sorry to go all Tea Party but there's no way in hell I'm going to trust Reed and the Nod Squad with a quarter of a billion dollars. They've been very clear who their master is and it's not the public. As much as the city needs many infrastructure repairs and upgrades, I'd rather wait a couple of years to get a new administration in before obligating the taxpayers to decades of whatever good ol' boy influenced projects Reed and friends come up with. We'll get a much better return on our investment of tax dollars by waiting a few years for Reed to be gone and hopefully at least half the nod squad with him.

8 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by Reed doesn't care about common people on 07/09/2014 at 1:03 PM

Re: “City Hall asks for public input on potential projects for $250 million bond package

@Vox: They haven't finalized a list yet of the projects. But it sounds like the majority will likely be in high-traveled areas in the first bond package. They'll get to lower priority things in subsequent bond packages, they say.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by MBlau on 07/09/2014 at 12:50 PM

Re: “Little Five Points grows up, gets its own CID to potentially fund parking deck, traffic signals, bus circulator

The city should not have taken away the on street parking option. Its been that way for decades and its worked fine for decades. You buy a house there you know what you are getting.

I agree its a confiscation of public property for private use.

I also agree we have to stop building our communities for cars instead of people!

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by NYA on 07/09/2014 at 12:47 PM

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