Brookhaven, GA, March 30, 2017 – by Trey Benton – Brookhaven’s City Council unanimously approved a (not to exceed) $325,276 contract with the PATH Foundation Tuesday, to provide design work for the Peachtree Creek Greenway. According to the City, the scope of work for the Peachtree Creek Greenway includes surveys, design, identify acquisitions as needed, engineering and permitting.
The City said in a Tuesday release, the total “represents a steep discount compared to for-profit firms, as the PATH Foundation leverages personal and corporate donations of professional services and overhead to achieve their mission to build a system of interlinking greenway trails through metro Atlanta region.”
“Engaging with the PATH Foundation is a double-win for Brookhaven. PATH brings a lot of subject matter expertise to the table with their work throughout the region, and as a not-for-profit, PATH can do the job much more economically than if we use a for-profit engineering firm,” said Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst in the release. “This public/non-profit partnership will ensure the best possible outcome of this project.”
Georgia Legislators have also voted to approve a request by Brookhaven to increase the City’s Hotel/Motel tax from 5% to 8%, setting the tax on an equal plane to what DeKalb County already assesses. A portion of the increased tax proceeds will be dedicated to the plus or minus, $38 million Peachtree Creek Greenway project. House Bill 575, the hotel/motel tax increase bill, is now headed to the desk of Governor Nathan Deal to sign in to law.
The first phase is expected to cost $9 million, which the hotel/motel tax will be used to service a 20-year revenue bond. City estimates indicate the annual amount available for construction of the Peachtree Creek Greenway from an increase in the hotel/motel tax rate to 8 percent, will be about $650,000 annually.
“The PATH Foundation has been working on an extensive network of walking and biking trails for 26 years, and we are excited to work toward tying the Peachtree Creek Greenway into that network,” said PATH Foundation Executive Director Ed McBrayer in the City release. “This piece of the puzzle will ultimately connect Brookhaven with the Atlanta Beltline, PATH 400 and the Silver Comet Trail.”
Brookhaven City Manager Christian Sigman noted at the Feb. 15 City Council meeting that the hotel/motel tax is a “logical funding source” for the Peachtree Creek Greenway project. He said the tax is paid by non-City residents and once complete, the Greenway will be a regional “tourism product”.
Sigman told Councilmembers this the hotel/motel tax increase funding stream would not cover the entire cost of the 2.8-mile Peachtree Creek Greenway project, but would complete key segments between North Druid Hills Road and Briarwood Road.
State law requires the additional 3 percent tax levied to be split 50/50, with half being expended for promoting tourism, conventions and trade shows by the destination marketing organization (DMO) designated by the municipality levying the tax, and the other half expended by the City for tourism product development. Currently the City’s DMO is Discover DeKalb.
Brookhaven’s 2017 budget estimates hotel/motel tax revenue at $2.2 million. Under the existing arrangement, 60 percent of that revenue – or $1,320,000 – goes to the City’s General Fund; and 40% – or $880,000 – goes to Discover DeKalb.