Friday, May 6, 2016

Fayette commissioner critical of DeKalb tax deal

Fayette County commissioner Steve Brown has called a tax deal that lured 1,200 jobs to DeKalb County from Fulton County an “exercise in financial cannibalism” that hurts the metro-area. Cox Automotive will renovate and expand its Lake Hearn Drive headquarters as part of the deal. The Dunwoody Crier has explained the details of the abatement, saying that the “taxes are never completely abated but start at 85 percent and drop ten to twenty percent a year, dropping to one percent by year fifteen. The county, school and city continue to receive taxes, although reduced by the abatements, from the entities throughout the 15-year period.” The terms sound similar to other bond-lease agreements used for economic development in Georgia.

In a letter to the editor of the Fayetteville Citizen, Brown criticized the DeKalb-Cox deal but also acknowledged that the high quality of life in North DeKalb is a key factor in attracting business to DeKalb. Here’s what Brown wrote:
...In Georgia, property tax abatement is the major enticement for attracting job providing companies. Most of the tax abatement is handled out of public view through development authorities, a local vehicle created through the state government. Again, there is some risk as the development authority members making decisions on the tax give-backs have no accountability to the citizenry.
We are now seeing intense competition in metro Atlanta on stealing businesses from each other with financial incentives. Cox Automotive recently received $6 million in tax breaks for moving 1,200 jobs from Fulton County to DeKalb County. This exercise in financial cannibalism is destructive to all of us.
But even with the generous tax abatement offers, some areas are having a difficult time luring business because of quality of life issues. The bottom line is that you must be able to provide a quality place to live or you are out of the running for the high end opportunities.
DeKalb County is attracting high end jobs, primarily, in one specific location: Perimeter Center. The area in the city of Dunwoody is the county’s quality of life enclave and is really what keeps DeKalb County in the hunt...

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