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 |

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."