The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday ruled that school property tax money cannot be used to fund Atlanta’s Beltline project, a potentially major blow to the effort to build a loop of transit, trails and parks around the city’s core.
The unanimous decision is a victory for Buckhead lawyer John Woodham, who in 2006 filed a lawsuit claiming the Beltline’s funding mechanism was illegal. He argued that the state constitution explicitly forbade school taxes from being used for non-educational purposes.
In an opinion released Monday morning, the court cited two earlier rulings, including a 1994 decision which held that DeKalb County school tax revenue couldn’t be used to pay for a nearby road project.
So, the court ruled, “it follows that school taxes cannot be used to fund the Beltline Plan which provides a benefit to all citizens, and which has little, if any, nexus to the actual operation of public schools in the city of Atlanta.”
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