Troup County Board of Education signs off on mall TAD

Matthew Strother

mstrother@civitasmedia.com

LaGRANGE — The Troup County Board of Education was the last governmental entity to sign off on a tax allocation district, or TAD, Thursday during its regular meeting.

The board unanimously approved the measure. The LaGrange City Council approved the measure Oct. 27 and Troup County Commission approved it Tuesday.

“The reason we sold (the state approval of issuing TADs) was there was widespread belief in the community that we needed more retail offerings,” said LaGrange City Manager Tom Hall, speaking at the board’s Monday meeting. “That we were bleeding too much money into adjacent counties and communities, and that we needed to have the same type of national brands that were available to towns surrounding us.”

Hall noted that the mall owners, Hull Property Group, is working on getting space left by JC Penney refilled and adding another 50,000 square foot space to the mall with national brands. Also, at least one more national chain restaurant and other restaurants are planned for an outparcel on the property, replacing the former Ryan’s restaurant.

“Since we’re not Buckhead or one of these other communities where they generate a lot of money per square foot of store, we need to provide those incentives to get those national retailers in at a cost they can afford to locate here,” he said.

The TAD will give the mall property owner an opportunity to use its own capital to make the upgrades. The amount paid to local entities is locked at the ad valorem tax rate as of Jan. 1, allowing Hull a temporary tax break to pay back its tax-free loan over 17 to 18 years. Hall said despite the tax collections staying flat, the improvements should generate more sales that would benefit the Board of Education through its 1 percent educational special-purpose, local-option sales tax, or E-SPLOST.

The actual cost of the improvements will vary based on the construction cost, Hall said, but the city will get construction costs and plans before starting.

The board also approved the renewal of a TAD for a project that has laid dormant over the last few years between Whitesville and Hamilton roads. Since the Great Wolf project has been proposed nearby, the owning group has renewed interest in the property, according to Hall. The TAD would be extended through December 2018.

In other business, the board approved Thursday:

Human resource recommendations, including four teacher resignations, one teacher retirement, hiring of a new teacher and promotion of LaGrange High School Principal Penny Johnson to director of secondary curriculum effective Jan. 1. Johnson will continue as principal until a replacement is found, said Sequita Freeman, chief human resource officer.

Board policy on suicide prevention on first reading.

The board financial report for the month ending Oct. 31. The board is through 33.34 percent of the fiscal year, with 27.15 percent of its estimated revenues received and 32.45 percent of its budget expended, said Byron Jones, chief financial officer.

A resolution to allow the Board of Education to seek a hardship waiver for the previous school year, allowing system flexibility in the state requirement of percentage of the budget used for instruction, citing “substantial hardship.” Jones said the state’s conditions for what constitutes instruction expenses differs from what the school system budgets under instruction.

E-SPLOST projects and resolution for the renewal of the E-SPLOST initiative on the ballot for May 24, 2016. (See the Weekend edition for a full story on this item.)

Purchase order 222946 to CDW Government for $31,873.52 from the system’s general fund for its annual Microsoft Office license renewal, making the software available to all students and staff.

Purchase order 221090 to BSN Sports for $47,732.88. Troup County Parks and Recreation and Troup County School System have partnered to purchase new track equipment for school track activities for community and schools use. School system SPLOST funds will cover $23,866.44 and Parks and Recreation Department funds will cover $23,866.44.

Purchase order 210159 to Strategic Equipment Inc. for $40,651.62. During demolition of the old Ethel Kight school building, the dishwasher was salvaged and replaced in the newly remodeled school. Unfortunately the dimensions of the new space did not allow for the old unit to function properly and cannot be used, said John Radcliffe, assistant superintendent for maintenance and operations. The dishwasher must be specially designed to fit the space and structure of the dish room and only one quote was obtained from the authorized Hobart vendor. Board member Ashley Adams said she was disappointed that the problem was not found and corrected sooner.

Purchase order 222411 to Yancey Bus Sales and Service for $733,071 for seven school buses. The Georgia Department of Education provided bond money for bus purchases for the 2015-2016 school year at $386,100 and the balance of $346,971 will be funded by E-SPLOST funds.

Purchase order 222221 to James O’Neal Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in the amount of $45,787 for a 2015 Ram Model 3500 maintenance vehicle.

Adopted the 2016 board meeting schedule — in order of caucus and regular meetings: Jan. 19 and 21; Feb. 16 and 18; March 14 and 17; April 18 and 21; May 16 and 19; June 13 and 16; July 18 and 21; Aug. 15 and 18; Sept. 12 and 15; Oct. 17 and 20; Nov. 14 and 17; Dec. 12 and 15.

Matthew Strother is the editor at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311. ext. 2153.