Taking ‘real action’: New south Cobb tax district proposed to target blight
by Hilary Butschek
June 17, 2014 04:00 AM | 4187 views | 7 7 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A brief look at the proposed tax district.
A brief look at the proposed tax district.
slideshow
A more detailed look at the proposed tax district.
A more detailed look at the proposed tax district.
slideshow
MARIETTA — Cobb Chairman Tim Lee hopes by September to create a new tax district in south Cobb whose revenues would be used to target blighted properties.

Following a resolution adopted by the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority Monday, the decision heads to the Board of Commissioners for possible action.

The proposed district would include the tip of south Cobb, bordered by the Fulton and Douglas county lines to the south and Interstate 20. The district would include Six Flags Drive and Six Flags Road to the north and the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park.

Ed Richardson, chairman of the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority, said residents and businesses have complained about the Six Flags area for decades.

“South Cobb has been underinvested in — and certainly that quarter has been overlooked, so this is nothing new. It’s just that we have an opportunity now to take some real action,” Richardson said.

The plan is to issue $10 million in bond proceeds and use the higher taxes collected from the commercial and industrial property owners in the new district, as well as apartment complex owners, to pay off the debt.

Lee said in order to decide the new tax rate for the district, he and the four district commissioners would “have to sit down and talk about in more concrete terms: what it is they’re trying to accomplish and over what period of time.”

The county would authorize the use of the $10 million to buy blighted properties, demolish the aging structures and sell the properties, similar to what the city of Marietta is doing for the Franklin Road corridor.

Each property targeted by the group would need to be approved by the Board of Commissioners.

“That money will be used for the purchase of properties that are on blighted properties. In addition, we would be targeting the apartment communities that have the highest crime rates,” said Dana Johnson, Cobb County’s deputy director of community development.

The district would not be created until there were two public hearings in front of the county commissioners, Johnson said.

Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents south Cobb, said she hopes residents will be supportive.

“We’ve been trying since I came into office ... to identify a mechanism to redevelop that area, and I’m glad to see that we’ve finally found one that can work,” Cupid said.

Both Cupid and Lee think the district will be successful because it asks those inside the district, who will directly benefit from the redevelopment, to pay for those improvements.

“I think it’s a conservative way to approach this because the people who stand to benefit the most from the improvements we’ve been talking about are the ones that are going to pay for it,” Richardson said. “So, if you’re outside of the south Cobb district in another part of the county, they won’t be paying.”

This proposed district is similar to districts with increased taxes in other areas of Cobb County, such as the community improvement districts in Marietta, Cumberland and Town Center. These districts increase taxes on those inside the district to pay for roadwork or public safety improvements. One difference is that whereas property owners in CIDs agree to the tax, but commissioners would be approving the tax.

“There has been success in Marietta, Smyrna, Dunwoody and many others where they have an issue of declining apartment communities and its impact on the neighborhood — of finding a way of remediating that by removing some of the structures,” Johnson said. “I think the important part of that is learning from their successes and how they were able to stabilize an area through this method.”

Richardson said the new district will be an improvement for the whole county because south Cobb, which has long been an area with high crime, would become more like other areas of Cobb.

“Once crime is reduced in the Six Flags or the south Cobb quarter, the public safety resources that are responding to all those incidents — now we’ll have a better chance to more equitably redistribute those resources to other parts of the county,” Richardson said. “It’s the ultimate win, win: reduce crime and then everyone gets their fair share of public safety resources.”

Comments
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tony cain
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June 17, 2014
Let me get this straight. The property owners in this area will be taxed at a higher rate so the government can take their properties away from them? The higher taxes they pay will then be used to buy their own properties from the owners?
Peter Tax
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June 17, 2014
The county would authorize the use of the $10 million to buy blighted properties, demolish the aging structures and sell the properties, similar to what the city of Marietta is doing for the Franklin Road corridor.

"Each property targeted by the group would need to be approved by the Board of Commissioners.

'That money will be used for the purchase of properties that are on blighted properties. In addition, we would be targeting the apartment communities that have the highest crime rates,' said Dana Johnson, Cobb County’s deputy director of community development."

Do the property owners get a say in this matter, or the courts? Or can the county just seize any property it pleases?
Mom comment
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June 17, 2014
They need to raise the taxes on the apartment complexes, condos with above 25% rental rate, houses that are being rented by corporate owners ( aka investors ). This is what is accounting to the decline in the area. Lack of owner occupied housing. These un maintained class C apartments such as the ones on Frankilin Rd ( prior to Marietta's announced buyout ) were selling between RIT ( real estate investment trusts for between $10k to 20k a unit. That means that on average they were on tax rolls for maybe 15,000 a year. So maybe they paid $150 per unit in property taxes with $85 maybe going to the schools per unit. When on average these units are sending 2 students per apartment to the schools? mostly the most difficult students of all. Then the other $65 to general property. Somehow it doesn't seem right.

now a person with a $500k house can't send their child beyond elementary school in Vinings area. That is even questionable. Middle school in Smyrna south and west is gang training ground, you simply can not send a white child to school. Campbell has an illiterate black Principal who can't speak or write correct English. Then is you own a $500k house you pay over $5,000 in taxes of which $3k are school taxes and $2,000 are general taxes. Most homeowners are sending their kids to private school or homeschooling in this price range.

So yes yes, increase the tax rate on all of the above double it. Let them flee to Douglas. They were given section 8 vouchers from city of Atlanta when they tore down the projects. Then their are the New Orleans Gangs who relocated after Katrina.

Why should absentee slum landlords not pay anywhere close to what their residents use for public services including schools, police and fire.
The wood
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June 17, 2014
Complete redevelopmemt complete with a world class golf course hotel resort investments and senior living communities will revitalize the area as well as invite much needed tourism to Atlanta. Offer some incentives
Vorant1
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June 17, 2014
South Cobb is done for, no amount of money can change demographics...
ole man
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June 17, 2014
If businesses stayed away at the current tax rate, only government would think raising taxes is the solution.

What part of trickle down don't you understand. Look for Six Flags tickets prices to rise next year.
noseriously
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June 17, 2014
Raising taxes will drive those businesses to Douglas County. Think.
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