082119_PNN_Studio

Atlanta Film Studios Paulding County includes 78,000 square feet and opened in 2012.

A county commissioner says he supports an economic development agency giving the Paulding government millions of dollars from the sale of a movie studio because the county repaid part of the financing used to build it.

Commissioner Ron Davis of Post 1 said he wants the Paulding County Industrial Building Authority to give the $4 million from the sale of its film studio to the county government which has been repaying the bonds used to finance its construction for three years.

Davis recently said his “stance absolutely has not changed” since July 23 on the repayment.

“Every dime paid for that movie studio needs to be returned to the county to pay off the debt incurred to build the studio,” Davis said.

During a public hearing July 23, Davis asked County Attorney Jayson Phillips to find if state law requires the building authority to give the sale proceeds to the county government.

The commissioner also said on July 23 he wanted the building authority to give the money to the county even if state law did not require it.

Commission Chairman Dave Carmichael, who is a member of the building authority, said he favored the authority using the money to build new industrial space to attract more companies to the county.

Paulding County owes more than $6 million on the original $7.9 million bond the building authority issued with the county government’s backing in 2011.

The bond included $5.5 million to build the studio in Hiram and the remainder for construction of a water tower and hangar at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport in west Paulding County.

Supporters on the building authority and county commission said in 2011 they believed the studio would benefit from the rush to produce films in Georgia after the state’s approval of major tax credits for companies filming in the state.

However, despite being the location or production facility for a variety of movies and TV productions, including the Jackie Robinson biopic “42,” the building authority found it was not generating enough revenue from the studio and other properties to make the payments and Paulding County began paying the bond in 2016.

Building authority director Robert Crouse also has said he wants the building authority to use the money to provide more industrial parks and buildings for industrial recruitment because the county lacked them.

THE CONTRACT

Meanwhile, the $4 million Swirl Films paid for the studio and its 11-acre site July 19 was less than half the appraised value of $8.2 million, according to county records.

The county tax assessor is required to give an estimated value of properties to the state even if they are exempt from property taxes as the studio was, said chief appraiser James Stokes.

Crouse said the company was able to use the total of rental payments made on the Paulding studio since July 1, 2018, as part of the $4 million purchase price.

Hiram Mayor Teresa Philyaw, who is a member of the authority, said she was glad to see the sale to Swirl because it means a company with expertise in film and TV production will be owning and operating the studio.

“(The building authority) did not have the means to make that thrive,” Philyaw said.

She said the county will benefit from a formerly exempt property going on the tax rolls.

“It will just be a win-win for everybody,” Philyaw said.

She said local restaurants and lodging establishments likely will see a financial windfall from the company sometimes employing hundreds for film productions.

Area building supply retailers already have seen increases in sales since Swirl began renting the studio in mid-2018, she said.

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