Back to the amendments

Clint thinks I should vote for Amendment 2.

Decaturguy thinks I should vote for Amendment 1.

Okay people, since the only people out explaining anything about these amendments are the foresters, you people advocate your position.

I’m **very** persuadable on all of these amendments.

Why should I or should I not vote for the amendments?

18 comments

  1. chief alewife says:

    Points Voters Should Consider on Amendment #3

    (Infrastructure Development Districts, or “Private Cities”)

    1) County Commissions Can Bestow Taxing Power on Private Businesses
    This Amendment will allow county commissions, acting by a single majority vote, after only two public hearings, to authorize private developers to levy taxes (“assessments”) to finance Infrastructure Development District projects.

    2) No Referendum is Required
    No vote by the taxpayers of the host county is required to grant this power to these private parties.

    3) No Conflict of Interest Rules Apply
    There is no legal prohibition on any county commissioner having a financial interest in these Infrastructure Development Districts.

    4) Developers Allowed to Issue Tax-Free Bonds
    When these tax levies (“assessments”) are permitted, the developer is also authorized to issue tax-free municipal bonds; in this event, there is no effective difference between the Infrastructure Development District and a municipal government.

    5) Costs of Development are not Controlled by Market Forces
    Developers operating as Infrastructure Development Districts are required by law to pass all costs of development on to the purchasers of property in the development in the form of assessments (taxes), removing any restraints on those costs that would limit an ordinary developer’s budget.

    6) All Key Financial Decisions are Exclusively Left to Developers Alone
    All critical financial decisions of Infrastructure Development Districts will be made by the private developers prior to the time at which nominal control of the Districts will pass to governing boards controlled by property owning residents. Since only after irrevocable financial contracts are made, “control” by residents will only be simulated. Major financial decisions are outside their control.

    7) No Evidence of Sustainability is Required
    There is no requirement that developers of Infrastructure Development Districts show the suitability of their site for their project, nor that they provide any assurance that adequate water supply or other necessary infrastructure such as transportation exists outside the boundaries of their development.

    8) Host Counties May be Left Holding the Bag
    Because the taxes (“assessments”) levied by the developers are to be collected by county tax commissioners, by operation of law, any default in payment of taxes by the developer, or by purchasers of properties in the District may create a tax lien, which can lead directly to the host county becoming the owner of the defaulting property.

    9) Other Creditors Will Try to Recover Debts from Host Counties
    In the event of such default, and host county assumption of titles to properties in the Infrastructure Development District, other creditors can, and may be expected, to defer their own actions in default until the host county takes titles, and whatever liability attaches to the the properties in default.

    10) Claims of Statutory Limits on Taxes are False
    While the statute creating Infrastructure Development Districts requires that purchasers receive disclosure documents stating that all taxes (“assessments”) of the District are “capped by law,” in fact the only legal limit on such charges is left to the discretion of each District Board. Actual legal caps were amended out of the bill prior to final passage in 2007. The board can set the charges at any level it desires; that decision is merely a business arrangement, nothing resembling a law.

  2. Game Fan says:

    As one of those “hold the line” conservatives I’m voting “no” on anything that contains the word “infrastructure”. Infrastructure development districts? Another layer of government and bureaucracy? Do they already exist? Looks like a perfect home for revolving doors and no-bid contracts.

  3. Vic says:

    Amendment 3 sounds like the framework for another massive Government Bailout, only this time it would be backed by the full faith of your County Treasury.

    In other words, when these developments start to implode, like all other real estate mega deals, your State and County property taxes will go up to bail them out.

    But hey, as long as your buddies can make a quick buck, backed by the full faith of the U.S. Govument, you might as well sell out property owner rights to the developers.

    http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/102208/opi_346895202.shtml

    “Proposed Amendment 3 a ‘chump test’ for Georgia voters”
    -Bill Shipp Athens Banner-Herald
    10/21/2008

    excerpt:

    “Look out. Our friends in the General Assembly have quietly plugged a few words into the Nov. 4 ballot to test voters. They want to know if we still are chumps.”

  4. JRM2016 says:

    I leave it to you on Amendment 1.

    Vote No on 2 and 3. No education dollars to pay for TAD bonds and no government banks to finance deals that commercial banks deem to risky (does that sound familar).

  5. odinseye2k says:

    Chief,

    With all the talk of privatization roads and the like, I was smelling something like that on Amendment 3. Don’t counties and other local governments already have the ability to set up a SPLOST if they want to build a regional monorail or whatever?

  6. Tea Party says:

    Kudu’s to PP

    I now know how to vote on these amendments- Chief, your summary caused me to further research the IDD amendment.

    No to all of them.

  7. Game Fan says:

    Odenseye
    I’m not sure about that. I think maybe the Indians built all the roads because these days they can’t seem to keep them up without fancy new schemes and strange new bureaucracies. Therefore by simple logic you would have to realize that the existing institutions aren’t adequate for such undertakings.

  8. odinseye2k says:

    Game Fan,

    You’re going to really have to spell out your simple logic for me. I can’t get a handle on what you are trying to say.

  9. bowersville says:

    A1-No
    A2-No
    A3-No

    I can’t believe anyone considering themselves as a conservative Republican would run this garbage out to the voters.

  10. Icarus says:

    “I can’t believe anyone considering themselves as a conservative Republican would run this garbage out to the voters.”

    Because when “the people ask for it”, and then holy hell blows up, the reps that put it on the ballot can say “I didn’t vote for it, the people did.”

  11. bowersville says:

    And the cock crowed thrice.

    Yet no one prevailed on the cross when it was all said and all done, not even the Lord, until the third day and then the Lord arose and the tomb was left empty except for the Georgia GOP.

  12. BobG says:

    Re Amendment #1: Currently, a property owner can agree to keep his property in an agricultural use for 10 years in return for a lower tax rate. (It’s called a ‘conservation use assessment’.) If the use changes, the property owner must pay a penalty of twice the tax savings.

    The special assessment did not apply to larger tracts, however. Higher property tax assessments are now causing owners of large, forested tracts to consider selling for development or, at least, an income-producing purpose, just to pay the taxes.

    Amendment #1 would expand the current conservation use assessment to cover larger forests. It is a more restrictive assessment, however. The land must be ‘conserved’ for 15 years and the penalty is three times the tax savings if the covenant is violated.

    The other difference is that the state will reimburse the county for 50% of lost tax revenue for the first three percent of the tax digest and 100% of lost revenue above three percent. (I think I have all my numbers right.)

    I will probably vote YES on Amendment #1.

    Amendment #2 (education funds for tax allocation districts) is the issue about which I know the most; I will definitely vote YES.

    Contrary to what the detractors will tell you, the school system loses nothing. In fact, the TAD actually preserves tax revenue because taxable value of the property is ‘frozen’ at a baseline value for the life of the TAD, stopping any further decline in revenue resulting from the property’s continued deterioration.

    What the opponents fail to tell you is that Georgia school systems have benefited from participation in TADs for 20 years.

    First, the school system is not obligated to participate at all; it can opt out. Because they have that option, and because the school tax is usually a majority percentage of the total tax bill, the schools are in a great position to negotiate.

    Cherokee County schools had all development fees waived as part of their agreement to participate in the Holly Springs New Town Center TAD. In return for Atlanta Public Schools’ support of the Westside TAD, the system received $5 million to build Centennial Elementary on the site of the old Techwood Homes, plus an additional $2 million for other capital costs.

    For the Beltline TAD, APS had negotiated for $10 million for recreational facilities and ballfields within the TAD; subsidized or free transit rides for APS students; a trust fund for educators and staff; and $150 million for educational programming, paid at $7.5 million per year from years six to 25 of the life of the TAD.

    (It is ironic that it was a successful challenge of the use of education tax revenue for the Beltline TAD that derailed almost all TADs statewide and precipitated the need for Amendment #2. If you want to talk about a school system losing money, here it is!)

    Ask a school board if they will vote for Amendment #2…. you may find that you are much more worried about “losing” education tax revenue than they are!

    Someone mentioned the three promotional web sites above. We are also having an interesting discussion of this issue in a TalkGwinnnett.com forum set up for this purpose.

    Amendment #3 is the one of which I know the least. However, I do believe that ‘chief alewife’ completely mischaracterized IDDs in his comment above.

    I attended a very informative briefing on this amendment this morning, and will vote YES. I must leave this one to you to research on your own, however.

    (Small disclaimer: I have no financial stake in the opinions expressed. I did develop the web sites for both Gwinnett TAD referendum efforts…. the vote was in July. I personally opposed the first referendum, but my research in the interim changed my mind.)

  13. bowersville says:

    Well just thanks BobG for explaining how property taxes will be shifted from corporations and investors to private homeowners. Just swell, leave it to beaver.

    While you are at it Barney Frank, tell me how government investing in property deals worked out in the last 4 weeks will you?

  14. Game Fan says:

    Odinseye2k
    The point of my last comment was to suggest that the roads and bridges have been built and maintained so far without additional schemes. And plenty of shenanigans and rip-offs included. So the bottom line from my point of view would be to not allow the ass hats and the bureaucrats and the corporate puppets expand their territory by producing additional areas for them to expand their worthless ventures.

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