School board, city vote to amend TAD; commission to vote Tuesday

Construction is underway across the county on projects designed to bring jobs, tourism and retail options to the area, and local officials are working to approve a measure that they hope will continue that trend.

The City of LaGrange and the Troup County Board of Education both voted to approve a fourth amendment to the intergovernmental agreement for a Tax Allocation District on land along Whitesville Road near the Interstate 85 interchange this week. The Troup County Board of Commissioners is expected to provide the final approval on the matter at its regular meeting on Tuesday. A Tax Allocation District, or TAD, provides companies who decide to locate in a certain area with tax incentives by allowing the taxes on the developed property to remain the same as if the taxes were prior to development for a set period of time. Only property taxes are impacted by the TAD, so other taxes, such as sales tax, generally rise once the property is developed.

“What this fourth amendment does is merely extends the intergovernmental agreement and the commitment for this TAD financing for another five years and hopefully during that period of time, this will have developed,” said John Taylor, the attorney for the Troup County Board of Education. “There’s no loss to you as far as income. The taxes will remain the same on it.”

Another local TAD has been credited with making it possible for the LaGrange Mall to attract Dunham’s and Hobby Lobby to the area despite the county’s relatively small population compared to other areas with similar stores. Officials are hopeful that this TAD will also spark the interest of large retailers.

“The TAD is project-driven, and it is an economic development tool,” said Craig Melton, the president and managing broker of Comprehensive Commercial, during a LaGrange City Council work session on Tuesday. “We do not have a project out there today, but it is a great tool to attract end users to the site.”

Both commercial and industrial users are expected to eventually locate at the site, however the exact details of those businesses is not available at this time.

The previous extension of the TAD was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2017, but this approval by the city, the school board and the projected approval by the board of commissioners on Tuesday will expand the time frame that the tax incentives can be used to attract new businesses for another five years.

“This is set to expire in December of this year,” City Manager Meg Kelsey said. “The request is to extend it to 2022. That is a five-year extension. This is the property that is south of the Great Wolf development, so on the southern part of (Interstate) 85.”

Originally, the TAD was set up in five year terms in order to encourage local government and developers to review the progress and effectiveness of the economic tool.

“When we approved the first TAD for that location, (former City Manager) Mr. (Tom) Hall at the time wanted to put an expiration date on it because he wanted to basically force [the developer] to periodically go back and show what you are doing,” Mayor Jim Thornton said. “We understand that this is totally changed with the Great Wolf development. The whole direction of exit 13 (has changed). It is going to grow. We just don’t know exactly the details.”

The Troup County Board of Commissioners plans to vote on TAD during its regular meeting next week, and it is expected to pass there as well.

“We are in support of it because their plans for how they want to develop that piece of property on the south side of 85 will be key to the further development of exit 13,” County Commissioner Patrick Crews said. “It is going to become a very busy intersection with Sentury Tire and Great Wolf and all that is going to be happening in that area. Trying to continue to push forward on development is critical.”

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