Georgia County Government - October 2008 - (Page 35)

Feature What Do You Know About the State’s 2008 Constitutional Amendments? By Clint Mueller ACCG Legislative Director T he November general election is almost here. The national media are focused on the presidential race and the local media are providing coverage of local and state races occurring in their areas. With all this atten- tion on the political campaigns it is easy to overlook the three constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot. These amendments make substantive changes to the way Georgia will grow and develop in the future and deserve the attention of county commissioners and other local leaders. These amendments are fairly complex and cannot be easily understood through brief explanations or sound bites. It is important that you have a clear understanding of these amendments and discuss them with your constituents so that they can make an informed choice in November. The first amendment is the “Georgia Forest Land Protection Act of 2008.” The purpose of the amendment is to provide an incentive for forestland owners to enter their property into a 15year conservation covenant in exchange for a lower property tax assessment. This program is similar to the existing conservation program (CUVA) but it allows all forestland owners including corporations to apply. It also has a minimum acreage requirement (200 acres) with no maximum limit unlike CUVA which only allows up to 2,000 acres per owner. This program requires an owner to place all contiguous property approved for the program in a single covenant making the financial consequences for breaching a covenant higher. The penalty for breaching a covenant is a repayment of three to two times the tax savings depending upon the year the covenant is breached. Any loss of property tax revenue due to the preferential tax treatment on properties entering the program is shared between the state and local governments unlike the existing CUVA program that places 100 percent of the burden on local governments. Local governments are reimbursed by the State for 50 percent of the lost revenue up to 3 percent of digest revenues and 100 percent of lost revenue above 3 percent of digest revenues. The second constitutional amendment is the “Georgia Smart Infrastructure Growth Act.” The purpose of this amendment is to authorize counties and cities to create Infrastructure Development Districts (IDDs) to help fi nance public infrastructure necessary for a new master planned development. When an IDD is created, tax exempt bonds are sold to pay for infrastructure that includes water, sewer, storm water, solid waste, environmental remediation, road, bridges, street lights, transit, public safety facilities, schools, parks and green spaces. The bonds are backed by assessments proportionally allocated to each parcel of property within the district. Th is allows those that buy into a new development to pay for the new public infrastructure instead of this fi nancial burden being placed on all the taxpayers of the county or city. In addition to building infrastructure, the districts may be given the authority to provide for the long-term maintenance of the infrastructure. The concept behind IDDs is not new. Th is fi nancing tool is currently available to local governments in 17 other states. The third constitutional amendment is the “Redevelopment Powers Act.” The purpose of this amendment is to authorize school boards to pledge a portion of their property tax revenues within a Tax Allocation District (TADs). The Georgia Supreme Court on Feb. 11 ruled in a challenge to the City of Atlanta’s Beltline TAD that the state constitution precludes the use of school tax funds in TADs. Without the option for school boards AMENDMENTS continued on page 36 © OCTOBER 2008 35

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - October 2008

Georgia County Government - October 2008
President's Message
County Matters
South Georgia's Agricultural Heartland Welcomes Economic Diversity, High-Tech Research
What Do You Know About the State's 2008 Constitutional Amendments?
Union County's New Hope Clinic
Counties and the Law: U.S. Supreme Court Increases Burden on Defending Age Claims
Cyber Security Awareness
Are Animal Control Costs Out of Control?
Dave Wills Joins ACCG Staff
Executive DRIVE is the Pinnacle of Gwinnett's Leadership Institute
Preventative Medical Program Succeeds in Chatham County
DCA's Planning & Quality Growth Office Reveals New Regional Planning Approach
Implementation of Georgia's Security & Immigration Compliance Act
The Roundabout: Glynn County's Newest Approach to Traffic Management
Governor Urges Preparation for Digital TV Transition
The Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership
Wharton Named Program Director for Georgia Centers for Innovation
Army Ranger Turned Police Officer Attends CDP Training
ACCG Staff Attends National Conference of State Legislatures Summit
ACCG Editor, Forsyth County PIO Garner NACIO Awards
GDEcD News: Tourism Grants; Scan-Tech to Expand
Benefit News: GEBCorp Marks Eight Years of Retirement Benefits
Georgia's Courthouses and the American Renaissance
Extension News: Georgia 4-H Impacts Student Achievement, Leadership
Research Center: Best Methods for Creating Ordinances in Your County
CCAP Corner: Walter F. Rosso, Cusseta-Chattahoochee County
NACo News: Association Sponsors 'Green' Competitions
Beth Bradley Joins ACCG Staff
County Parade
Index of Advertising

Georgia County Government - October 2008