August 30, 2006

More and more frequently taxpayers, led by taxpayer groups, are challenging cities and counties. Taxpayers are demanding that the LAWS be followed. Government authorities can no longer get by with doing “as they please” without scrutiny from the taxpayers.

Lawsuits challenging Beltline bond authority to be heard
August 28, 2006, AJC, Horizon Section, page D4, — David Pend

Atlanta’s plan to sell up to $200 million in bonds to buy land along the Beltline will face an unusual hearing today in Fulton County Superior Court.

Proposals for local governments to sell bonds typically are rubber stamped by a Superior Court judge, who makes sure the bond papers are legal. But this time, two separate lawsuits filed against the Beltline’s special tax district are slowing the approval process.

The Fulton County Taxpayers Association contends the city doesn’t have the authority to exercise the state law that allows special tax districts to be created. The group, including its president, John Sherman, and seven other members raise several other contentions against the Beltline tax allocation district.

Atlanta resident John Woodham filed a lawsuit that also challenges Atlanta’s authority to issue bonds under the state’s Redevelopment Powers Law. Woodham contends the current city charter, as created by the state Legislature in 1996, does not authorize Atlanta to exercise redevelopment powers.

Both lawsuits raise issues that came up last autumn during the intense campaign to cre­ate a special tax district for the Beltline. The district is expected to generate about $1.7 billion in property taxes over 25 years to buy and build parks, trails, transit and work force housing. Critics contended that property owners outside the Beltline tax district will shoulder an unfair amount of the cost of providing routine city services to residents and businesses that move into the Beltline tax district.

The case is to be heard at 2 p.m.(8/28/06) by Supe­rior Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane at the courthouse, located at 185 Central Ave. in downtown Atlanta. The judge also has reserved the same time on Thursday (8/31/06) to hear additional comments, if necessary.


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