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22 Comments

  1. 1

    Jack Smith

    ‘Chamblee Mayor Pro-tem and City Councilman Brian Mock told The Post, “I just think it’s absolutely shameful that we have a beautiful new multi-million dollar facility ready to open its doors that will sit empty for another two months due to issues with the county water and sewer system. Another two months of healthcare denied to those in our community who need it most, all because the county can’t get their act together.”’

    So, does the city fail to see the connection between tax abated projects driven by the city and Dekalb county revenue reductions which make up the majority of the abated tax revenue? Yes, Dekalb has for years been dragging with respect to sewer and water issues but do we think that squeezing the county on tax revenue to promote development for additional demand on existing resources (including Schools) is not going to create issues? That would defy logic.

  2. 2

    \"Alarmist\"

    Every new development in DeKalb Co. started in 2016 without an on-site sewer storage system will have the same problem. Until the cities disconnect illegal storm to sanitary tie-ins, a capacity flow model cannot be created or calibrated.

    The County hasn’t completed mapping or testing yet. They are considering a $400m bond in addition to the $570 already bonded and spent. The EPA Consent Decree describes a $1.35B price tag. How quickly will DC swoop in to correct? How soon will DC W&S triple rates?

  3. 3

    Ida Beth

    How about all of the other construction projects?. Will they have trouble too.? Same water and sewage system. Same system we were worried about when Marta wanted to build their project.

  4. 4

    RAJ

    Not to worry! Only triple rates if you live long enough. A little creative financing(we used to call it Enron financing)should do the trick. W&S rates need to increase 3% per year forever not only to cover the existing $1.3B in projects(81 I think)but to cover upgrades for current and future growth that was not envisioned in the original estimate. So…..how much?…..another $1B and some of the new projects have already been identified but not costed.

  5. 5

    Tom

    Just wondering if anyone has specific knowledge as to where the funding is coming from which will be necessary to operate this facility. The poor and underserved will not be able to pay for these services out of pocket so who will?

  6. 6

    The Brookhaven Post

  7. 8

    \"Alarmist\"

    DC debt has risen from $1.2b in 2009 to 2.75b in 2015. Revenue at around $1b isn’t close to catching up. Rader mentions another $400m needed for sewer. Pension board listening to proposals suggesting another $100m for Pension Obligation bonds. Margin shrinks for the Fragilistas.

  8. 9

    Eddie E.

    So, the costs were underestimated.
    Raise the revenue necessary and solve the problem.
    Functional sanitary sewers will be worth every penny and might finally break the back of the anti-tax nonsense!

  9. 10

    Yakety yak!

    The American taxpayer will be footing the bill. Don’t fool yourselves, many of the so called poor and underserved are sending their earned money back home , to the tune of BILLIONS! Thank God President Trump is shining the light! Thank God, people that have been living a dishonest criminal life now have to watch their backs. They might now have to be responsible for their lawbreaking.
    I personally know a carpenter that crossed the border 12 years ago, illegally, been working in residential building and sends almost all of his money to his wife back in Mexico. He plans to retire down there quite well. American suckers!

  10. 11

    Brian Mock

    Jack, I hear what you are saying but I want to point out a couple of things. First, Mercy Care did not receive a tax abatement. Not trying to bash the county, but it would have really been great had they not waited until the 11th hour to tell them there were issues, causing a two month delay. That’s just not right. Second, while the DDA has granted four abatements, none of these projects have come online yet, meaning the county has not seen a loss in revenue on these projects to date. Thus, the sewer problems are all issues of past failures to maintain the infrastructure when you as a taxpayer and we as a city have been paying 100% of our fair share, no abatements. Also, please note each abatement is different than the other, in some cases the county will actually see an increase. Example, The Trackside Project has been a Marta parking lot for over 25 years, paying $0 in taxes. While there is an abatement, if built, the county would receive approximately $25,000 and schools $45,000 per year, starting the first year and ramping up from there. Is it less than what they would have received without the abatement, yes, but as a Marta parking lot they will continue to get nothing. The Nissan Project freezes what’s already in place. The county won’t be getting a dollar less than what they’ve been getting. The abatement freezes it so the taxes won’t go up, so while they won’t see an increase in tax revenue, they won’t see a decrease either. The Whole Foods Project would have gone away without the abatement as the property was contaminated. This project is in the state brownfield program that allows properties to freeze their property taxes for 10 years at an amount equal to the sale price at the time of brownfield remediation less remediation costs. That means that taxes would have likely been applied to a fair market value of under $4.7M (less certain remediation costs). So yes, the county won’t see any revenue for 10 years, but we would not have had a Whole Foods and all the other restaurants and shops without it.
    I’m not a fan of abatements, but I understand the reasoning behind why each was granted and recognize each situation is different. At the end of the day, we can’t blame the county sewer problems or DeKalb’s school problems on any of these abatements.

  11. 12

    Jack Smith

    I agree there is some valid argument for certain smart tax abatemented projects such as the brownfield redevelopment of the Cyanide Corp site for Wholefoods and other adjacent commercial properties. If we are going to give tax abatements, smart commercial projects seem to be the best use case. The sewer demands for retail commercial entities will not be terribly great with respect to apartments and the revenue generated in the form of sales taxes and future property taxes in argumentatively favorable. In addition commercial projects attract and jump-start other commercial projects in the area. But I disagree that high density apartment abatements are equivalent to commercial abatements since the apartment related demands on county and city services is far higher with not much benefit if any to the county or city. Chamblee is already a city with a very high number of apartments and very little large, high-end commercial retail. Clearly the amount of sewer needing treatment for several hundred apartment units is quite a bit more than commercial retail. I imagine Dekalb is factoring in these projects underway into their sewer demand which probably precipitated the last minute requirements for the Mercy Care project. This is why I stated that tax abatements for high impact developments and county services cannot be discussed as separate issues or isolated in a vacuum. Everything goes into the same sewer system.

    In addition, apartments with or without abatements have other undeniable high impact costs for other services such as 911, school systems, and public safety, fire and rescue, and road traffic and road maintenance. As far as the Trackside Project, the empty MARTA lot is indeed not bringing in any additional revenue to the city or county but it also is zero cost to the city and county since it is currently functional vacant land with a security fence.

    In summary, apartments are a drain on the local tax coffers whereas commercial supports local tax revenue base. It makes sense to support smart commercial but little sense to support high impact residential in the form of apartments. And what makes no sense is to take functional commercial (Nissian Dealership) or zoned commercial property (former Farmers Market) and forever convert it to high impact multi-family residential with very generous multi-year tax abatements when local infrastructure and school system are already over capacity.

  12. 13

    YCMU

    Oh Eddie, if only we were all as smart as you. Watershed is a completely different fund from any taxes that are being abated. The county has the money in the bank to fix the sewer problems. They are just too incompetent to do anything about it. By Felica.

  13. 14

    YCMU

    jack, what you and others fail to see in your argument is that DeKalb watershed is a completely different fund from any taxes that are being abated. The county has the money in the bank to fix the sewer problems. They are just too incompetent to do anything about it.

  14. 15

    Chad

    Would you like to provide some commentary on sanitary ‘watershed is a completely different fund from any taxes that are abated’ or ‘the county has the money in the bank to fix the sewer problems’?

  15. 16

    Marle

    YCMU try again. Corruption in Dekalb has embezzled, misused and spent the money we paid to fix the sewers. Now they are going to raise our already expensive sewer rates and continue to steal by having falsely inflated water bills…. there is no money in the bank. http://www.myajc.com/news/local-govt–politics/ajc-analysis-water-bills-triple-for-dekalb-customers/1ObgTBfdpo7HyLchBFKXbI/

  16. 17

    Marle

    The money for sewers was used to pay Mr Ellis all his back pay and Ms Sutton’s non County bills.

  17. 18

    Jack Smith

    Just to be clear, the Dekalb entity we are talking about is actually the Dekalb County Wastewater Management which is underneath the Dekalb Watershed Management and is an authority owned and controlled by Dekalb County government as allowed by Georgia State Code. The 2016 budget revenues for the Dekalb County Watershed Management was just over $300 million. Unlike other surrounding counties such as Cobb, Dekalb does not actually reallocate authority revenue to the county general fund. Dekalb Watershed Management can certainly mismanagement funds and most likely do but they do not use it to fund other county operations.

    The costs to improve the waste water systems in Dekalb as part of the consent decree is estimated at about $1.5 billion. The money to fund the improvements, like other authorities whose infrastructure costs exceed revenues, must be derived from the Dekalb County Watershed issuing authority bonds (sewer bonds) which cannot be backed by the authority since it has no legal right to collect taxes. Instead the county backs the bonds (guarantee) whose cost is paid by the sewer fees derived by residents and businesses operating in Dekalb County. The quality of the bonds (interest paid due to bond rating) is directly related to the quality of the Dekalb County government revenues and should those cost become more expensive it is the residents and businesses of all of Dekalb that pay. In other words, the weaker the county revenues and financial picture the more expensive the bonds and the more the residents and businesses of Dekalb must pay for upgrades to the existing system. So, yes you are correct. Property taxes do not go directly to pay for sewer bonds but property taxes and the health of the county from a revenue perspective is a crucial part of the complex puzzle in how things are paid for by an authority especially for a bond issuance. You can’t get one without the other.

    https://brookhavenpost.co/2013/12/23/dekalb-county-water-and-sewer-rates-increase/12024/

    Regardless, cities issuing tax abatements which abate taxes for the county yet not for themselves is just a developer hand-out with no accountability and little risk or cost to the city issuing the abatement. In other words, if Chamblee were to be responsible for running the local school system and watershed, the handing of tax abatements would be debated in a very different manner since they city would be holding the bag for all the costs. When the city authority gives those abatements to high impact developments (e.g. multifamily housing) that put the most strain on already overburdened systems well that is just irresponsible. There is no way around it. Chamblee is not an island and development projects do not live in isolation. They are all part of the fabric of the infrastructure and services we share as residents of both Chamblee and Dekalb.

  18. 19

    NTH

    Wow, all that text just to prove that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. See you in the funny papers.

  19. 20

    Jack Smith

    So go ahead and point out where I am wrong. I am listening. Crickets?

  20. 21

    YCMU

    You don’t know “Jack” Smith, which part of water fees are not abated do you not get? NTH is right, maybe there is a job for you with DeKalb watershed. Sounds like you would fit right in.

  21. 22

    Jack Smith

    You still fail to point out a single statement I made as incorrect. Please state which statement is not correct or are you just opposed to facts? Never said sewer costs are abated directly. But as far as school system taxes go, those are abated directly and the city doesn’t care since they pay for either system. As a resident you should care because you pay for it with your increased sewer fees, school taxes and poorer performing schools which affect your home value. Those are just the facts jack.

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