Priorities for Education

School property tax money is being used for development!

Are the schools in Georgia meeting all expected standards of excellence and thus don’t need the money?

It’s easy to be cynical these days.

Link: Ruling jolts Beltline, other projects | ajc.com

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday that school property tax money cannot be used to finance Atlanta’s Beltline, a stunning decision that casts doubt on the future of dozens of similar projects across the state, including downtown’s Allen Plaza and Atlantic Station in Midtown.

The unanimous ruling is a victory for Buckhead lawyer John Woodham, who in a 2006 lawsuit claimed the Beltline funding mechanism was illegal. He argued that the state constitution explicitly forbids school taxes from being used for non-educational purposes such as the Beltline, a planned loop of transit, trails, parks and development around the city’s core.

The Supreme Court agreed, citing 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.

"It’s devastating," said Hal Barry, whose company, Barry Real Estate, is the lead developer at Allen Plaza, an eight-block project near the Georgia Aquarium. "To get this kind of a low blow is really . . . I’m speechless. I can’t think it through yet."

Do Real Estate Developers Dictate Environmental Policy?

Below is a letter to the editor from the 5/12/2007 edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Link: Saturday Talk | ajc.com

Balanced board crucial to our river

I would like to express my grave concern that the Georgia Board of Natural Resources is becoming a rubber stamp for development and destruction of our state’s rivers and streams.

I am a member of the Georgia Women Fly Fishers, a group dedicated to advancing the sport of fly fishing and promoting conservation. We fish regularly in the Chattahoochee and have first-hand knowledge that development runoff causes degradation of the river with every rain. This problem is only getting worse.

It is alarming that Gov. Sonny Perdue, despite his claimed goal of wanting to make Georgia a fishing paradise, has removed all voices from the board that oversees the Department of Natural Resources that advocate for clean water and public green space.

We must have balanced representation. Having a board dominated by big developer interests at a time when water is our most precious and declining natural resource is not only bad for tourism, it is contrary to the greater public welfare and common sense.

JOY …, Smyrna

The explosive growth of the Atlanta metropolitan area has created huge wealth for many real estate developers. Environmental regulations increase the cost and complexity of real estate development. Many elected officials from the governor down to the small town boards have been influenced by the developers and their representatives to ignore the impact of unfettered development on streams and natural areas.

Governor Perdue provides another disappointing example of a politician committing to a position to get elected and then making appointments that contradict that position. Perhaps when enough attention is focused on these elected officials, they will not sell out defenseless streams and natural areas so thoughtlessly.

When do we stop sacrificing natural resources, like clean water, that are essential to the health of future generations?