The Richmond Hill City Council met in regular session Tuesday to discuss a referendum for Tax Allocation Districts, or TADs, and the city’s participation in the Bryan County Complete Count Committee for the 2020 U.S. Census.
A Tax Allocation District, or TAD, is a specially defined area that has been identified for its redevelopment potential through tax exempt bonds or other financing methods authorized by the governing entity.
City consultant Ken Bleakly identified the commercial area at the I-95 interchange at Highway 17 in Richmond Hill as one such potential district. He pointed toward slow-growing or no-growth areas as potential TADs in commercial and residential zoning. According to documents provided to the city, “Typically, areas designated as TADs don’t pay their fair share of property taxes, forcing higher-wealth areas to carry the cost of services to those areas.”
TAD bonds or loans are secured by a tax allocation increment – the increase in property tax revenues resulting from redevelopment. This, Bleakly explained, is the difference between the base property tax revenue assessed and collected prior to the establishment of a TAD and the additional property tax revenue brought in from private investments and public improvements.
The additional revenue, Bleakly said, can be used to fund infrastructure projects for road improvements, sewer, water, and etc.
In March, Richmond Hill leaders met with Bryan County officials to discuss plans to establish TADs to forego impact fees on new residential and commercial construction that are allocated for road improvements. At that meeting, Richmond Hill city officials touted TADs as another means of funding such projects through future property taxes. B ryan County passed an impact fee ordinance for new development South Bryan in January and began collecting the fees in April. The money is being used for road projects.
Tuesday, Bleakly explained that TADs are state-approved under Georgia’s Redevelopment Powers Law, and are used in over 80 cities and counties in Georgia with similar laws in place in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
An important distinction to make, Bleakly said, is that TADs do not create an additional tax on property owners and all property owners will continue to pay the tax millage rate approved by city officials. The additional revenue comes from new development.
The council approved the referendum for TADs on the Nov. 5 ballot, but this would only be the first hurdle if the city is to establish such districts.
If approved by voters, the city will then need to define a district they wish to propose and create a development or redevelopment plan. A public hearing will follow and the plan will need to receive the council’s approval. Then, a negotiation with the school district and county will take place before a TAD could be created. Then, the city can repeat this process for other TADs.
The council also approved a resolution to participate in the Bryan County Complete Count Committee for the 2020 U.S. Census.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau aims to take count of each resident in the United States. According to Assistant City Manager Scott Allison, the Bureau has already begun going door-to-door with census information and residents have been questioning whether this is valid census activity. Allison said the participation will clear up any confusion.