‘That’s not fair’
by Hilary Butschek
December 22, 2014 04:00 AM | 953 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb County Civic Coalition President Ron Sifen addresses the Cobb County Legislative Delegation on Tuesday morning at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia during the annual meeting to discuss ideas for the upcoming legislative session. Sifen asked the delegation to create legislation that would tighten the terms under which development authorities in the state give tax breaks to developers. <br>Staff-Kelly J. Huff
Cobb County Civic Coalition President Ron Sifen addresses the Cobb County Legislative Delegation on Tuesday morning at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia during the annual meeting to discuss ideas for the upcoming legislative session. Sifen asked the delegation to create legislation that would tighten the terms under which development authorities in the state give tax breaks to developers.
Staff-Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
Kennesaw State University President Dr. Dan Papp addresses the legislative delegation, which included State Reps. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) and Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) and Georgia Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb).
Kennesaw State University President Dr. Dan Papp addresses the legislative delegation, which included State Reps. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) and Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) and Georgia Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb).
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MARIETTA — Ron Sifen, president of the Cobb County Civic Coalition, asked the county’s legislators last week to create legislation that would tighten the terms under which development authorities in the state give tax breaks to developers. Sifen said taxpayers in the CCCC are not opposed to tax abatements, but they do not like the way development authorities have discretion over who receives a tax break. Sifen told members of the Cobb Legislative Delegation at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia on Tuesday that development authorities don’t always have criteria to follow in giving tax breaks. “What we are asking the legislature to do is basically to require development authorities to adhere to the established criteria, and not just open the door to we’re going to give tax abatements to for no reason to whoever we want to give them to,” Sifen said. The Development Authority of Cobb County has the ability to allow a developer to skip out on paying its full share of taxes by agreeing to a schedule, which usually lasts 10 years, during which the developer can pay only a portion, sometimes as low as 10 percent, of the property taxes it would owe to the county and the school system. The development authority uses the ability to waive the developer’s taxes as a way to incentivize companies to build developments in Cobb. However, the practice sparked controversy between the authority and the Cobb County Board of Education one year ago when members of the school board said the practice was unfair because it deprived the school district of its tax revenue for that period. Clark Hungerford, chairman of the development authority, along with members of the county finance department, have maintained the practice helps increase tax revenue over the full 10 years because they say developers would not build in the county with tax breaks. Hungerford said the development authority considers the total revenue and number of jobs the development would bring to the county before it decides whether to recommend a tax break for each development. “We follow the policies and procedures that are in place today, and if the county commission and/or the legislature wants to make changes in them we will do our best to follow those policies and procedures,” Hungerford said. Sifen said he wants to see a written-out set of criteria development authorities will follow when deciding to give a tax break, which should include input from the public and “all impacted taxing authorities,” Sifen said. The power of oversight over the development authority should be given to the county commission, Sifen said. “The concern is, if we’re going to start setting the precedent of as long as we like you and it’s a big project, we’re going to start throwing tax abatements at any and every developer who comes along, then, you know, the properties do ultimately require services. They’re not paying their fair share of the taxes, and it’s going to fall on the tax payers to make up the difference in the cost. That’s why we think that’s not fair,” Sifen said. Lawmakers react State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R–east Cobb) said Sunday that she thought Sifen’s request was “realistic.” “I don’t believe any authority should be able to spend our tax money without oversight,” Cooper said. “They should follow certain rules. They’re supposed to bring new development and with that development they’re supposed to bring new jobs. I certainly think that they should be held accountable for meeting those goals.” Georgia Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R–west Cobb) said he thinks it’s important the development authority have a clearly written set of criteria that make developers eligible for the tax breaks. Tippins said Sunday a list of criteria will help the process become more objective. “I do think you need a clear set of criteria and my concern with the way the tax abatements work now is it appears to be more subjective than it ought to be. I think you set a set of criteria and then any applicant that meets that criteria gets the incentive. I have a problem with subjectivity and that a board can award to one and not award to another. I think that’s the driving force behind having a clearly defined set of criteria so you know if you qualify or don’t qualify,” Tippins said. There is no “one-criterion formula” for giving out tax breaks, Tippins said. Development authorities should consider both the number of new jobs created and the amount of increase in the county’s tax digest the county will experience when giving out tax breaks, Tippins said. In addition, Tippins said the authority should have more oversight. “The authority is not the county, it’s a quasi-governmental authority, and it has the ability to affect people’s tax liability or being excused from tax liability. I think it operates like a government even though it’s not a government. That’s the reason I think close regulation of the development authority makes a lot of sense,” Tippins said. Tippins said he’s not against the practice of giving out tax breaks, but he would like to see it reformed. “I realize the sole purpose should be to bring jobs into the county, and especially those jobs that would not be here otherwise. If you’ve got an entity that’s looking at several different sites, and you have to sweeten the pot a little bit to induce them to come in, it’s probably in the public’s best interest to do that, but there needs to be a clearly stated set of criteria by which you make that decision,” Tippins said. One lawmaker, State Rep. Charles Gregory (R–Kennesaw), said Sunday that he doesn’t want to see more regulation of the practice of giving out tax breaks, he wants to see it abolished. “So called ‘development authorities’ shouldn’t be in the business of “incentivizing,” period. This is just a means of government transferring wealth from taxpayers to the politically connected (almost always in exchange for “special favors”),” Gregory said. “Since theft is wrong no matter what, the real discussion should not be about further regulation, but eliminating the practice altogether.”
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Kennesaw State University President Dr. Dan Papp addresses the legislative delegation, which included State Reps. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) and Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) and Georgia Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb).
Kennesaw State University President Dr. Dan Papp addresses the legislative delegation, which included State Reps. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) and Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) and Georgia Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb).
slideshow
Cobb County Civic Coalition President Ron Sifen addresses the Cobb County Legislative Delegation on Tuesday morning at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia during the annual meeting to discuss ideas for the upcoming legislative session. Sifen asked the delegation to create legislation that would tighten the terms under which development authorities in the state give tax breaks to developers. <br>Staff-Kelly J. Huff
Cobb County Civic Coalition President Ron Sifen addresses the Cobb County Legislative Delegation on Tuesday morning at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia during the annual meeting to discuss ideas for the upcoming legislative session. Sifen asked the delegation to create legislation that would tighten the terms under which development authorities in the state give tax breaks to developers.
Staff-Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
Walton sweeps Cobb Quads
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
December 21, 2014 09:50 PM | 497 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A mixture of depth and individual success helped Walton sweep Lassiter, Kennesaw Mountain and Harrison in the Division I meet of the Cobb Quads on Saturday evening at Central Aquatic Center. Lassiter, Kennesaw Mountain and Harrison took second, third and fourth in both meets. The Walton boys beat Lassiter by nearly 200 points, but the girls meet was tighter with Walton winning by 58. Lassiter won the girls 200-yard freestyle, which kept the Raiders from sweeping the relays. The Walton boys got a jump start when it’s A and B relay teams took first and second in the 200 medley. Individually, the Raider boys had swimmers place in the top four of the 500 freestyle with David Yap winning in 4 minutes, 54.18, and all of them finished under 5 minutes. David Dingess won the 100 butterfly for Walton in 52.72 with teammates taking second and third. Kyle Hudon and Josh Getty led the diving competition. Luke Bartnicki won the 100 freestyle (50.62) and Thaddeus Macon prevailed in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.93). For the girls, Walton’s Olivia Winkler was a two-time individual winner, taking the 100 butterfly in 1:00.89 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:11.48. Emma Cole also won twice, sealing a win in the 200 individual medley in 2:13.25 and Lindsay Akers taking second and then taking the 500 freestyle in 5:08.00. Mary Beckwith won the 100 backstroke (1:02.51) with Jami Williams taking second, and Peri Charapich (239.70 points) won at diving. Division II Both Pope girls and Wheeler boys won their respective meets by lopsided scores. Hillgrove took second in both meets. The Pope girls were in command when their A and B relays took first and second in both the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyles. However, they had to settle for just first place in the 400 freestyle. Individually, the Pope girls placed their swimmers high. They placed in the top four in the 100 butterfly with Emma Murray winning in 1:00.83. Maggie Murray took the 200 freestyle (2:08.99) with teammates rounding out the top three. Pope swimmers were also in the top three of the 50 freestyle with Britheny Joassaint (26.39) winning. Pope was also one and two in the 100 freestyle with Bailey Dopfel winning in 59.57 over Hannah Winkler. Matigan Donahue and Kelly Payton also headed the diving competition. Sarah Sorensen added more points with a win in the 100 backstroke in 1:02.79. For the Wheeler boys, Alexander Mayfield ended up a two-time individual winner in the 100 butterfly (54.18) and the 100 backstroke (55.70). He also helped Wheelers’ relays place in the top two of the 200 medley. Ethan Neault was the other individual winner, clinching the 200 IM with a time of 2:11.99. Division III The North Cobb Christian boys edged Marietta by one point in the Division III meet, beating the Blue Devils 24-23. It was a meet where the Eagles won most of the individual events and relays to overcome Marietta’s depth. Joseph Clark, Matt Clark, Kendall Boys and Ryan Bohannon won the 200 medley (1:48.83) and Mark Barton switched with Byrd to win the 400 freestyle (3:36.50). Matt and Joseph Clark finished first and second in the 500 freestyle with times of 5:11.14 and 5:14.33. Matt Clark also won the 200 freestyle in 1:53.99 and Bohannon won the 200 IM with a time of 2:18.99. The girls meet was close with Campbell ousting Marietta 204-200. Addie Howser scored 164.40 to win the diving competition for Campbell. Sydney Reynolds also contributed by winning the 500 freestyle in 6:03.96. The Lady Spartans’ relays also took second and fourth in the 200 freestyle. Division IV Sprayberry swept the Division IV meet with the boys beating McEachern by 16 points, and the girls winning handily over the Lady Indians by 84. The Yellow Jackets won the 200 medley relay in 1:59.06, and Ananda Lim was a two-time winner in the individual events, taking the 100 butterfly in 55.49 and the 500 freestyle in 4:56.39. Kevin Ronckzowski was second in the 100 freestyle (58.48) and Sevin Brantley took second in the 100 breast with a time of 1:23.29. The Sprayberry girls scored massive points when its relay teams took first and second in the 400 freestyle relay with times of 5:13.57 and 5:20.10. Its 200 medley relay team also prevailed (2:13.09). Nicole Ronczkowski prevailed in the 100 freestyle in 59.62 and the 200 freestyle in 2:11.91.
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