Two Georgia Bills that will impact Peachtree Corners

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Georgia House Bill 369

City leaders have been keeping a close eye on several bills that affect Peachtree Corners. One would benefit its citizens. The second, however, would not.

One of the bills cleared one of the chambers on Friday, which was crossover day for this year’s Georgia Legislative session. Crossover day is the last day for a bill to move from one chamber to the other and still have a clear path to becoming law.

The first is House Bill 369. This bill has already unanimously passed through the House and is making its way through the Senate; this bill would enable the City Council to create a Public Facilities Authority.

“The creation of this authority is designated by the State Legislature and neither alters the charter nor increases the power of the City,” said City Manager Brian Johnson. “By enabling Peachtree Corners to establish a Public Facilities Authority, the State is providing the City another tool to exercise powers already held by the City.”

In addition to Peachtree Corners, the cities of Decatur, Dunwoody, and Richmond Hill have Public Facilities Authority bills pending before the General Assembly this year. Widely used by cities across the State of Georgia to support the acquisition and development of property and facilities for public use, a Public Facilities Authorities provides a platform and flexibility for financing public improvements that are not currently available. For example, a municipality in Georgia can only execute one-year leases whereas a Public Facilities Authority in Georgia can execute long term leases which correspond to better lease terms.

If House Bill 369 becomes law, the City Council would then need to vote to activate the Public Facilities Authority and appoint its initial members. Members do not receive compensation for their service. Once established, the City Council would continue to exercise oversight of the authority and its actions.

With the construction of the multi-use trail system scheduled to begin later this year and the City Hall lease set to expire, this authority could be put to use very soon.

“We anticipate that the long-term lease and financing options that this authority provides will certainly come in handy as we consider our City Hall options,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “We could also assign this authority ownership of public amenities such as restroom facilities along our multi-use trail system.

“In sum, this authority could become the primary mechanism going forward that the City will use to acquire or maintain real property, buildings, facilities, equipment and services for the benefit of the citizens of Peachtree Corners.”

If a Public Facilities Authority is established, this would be the second such authority created by the City. In 1983, the State Legislature enabled each municipality in Georgia to create a downtown development authority, which only needs a resolution by the local governing body to be activated. In April 2013, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution creating the Peachtree Corners Downtown Development Authority.

The second bill being closely monitored is House Bill 204. This bill has already passed through the House and is making its way through the Senate; this bill would prohibit the listing of any non-tax related assessments or fees on a property tax bill. This bill would require all fees for services, such as sanitation fees, stormwater fees, or street light fees, to be listed on a separate notice or notices.

The charging of fees for service on property tax bills is a cost-effective delivery mechanism utilized by countless cities and counties across the State. Many of these local governments that include fees on their property tax bills do so because they do not have an alternative billing system through which they could cost-effectively deliver those bills to customers. Prohibiting local governments from including fees on property tax bills would, in many cases, force these local governments to set-up “stand-alone” utility billing departments, which would be very costly to establish and operate.

“As a municipality that relies solely on property tax bills as a delivery mechanism for our user fees, Peachtree Corners would have to absorb a significant financial hit if this bill were to pass,” said City Manager Brian Johnson. “Minimizing costs to residents, by not duplicating billing systems, should be encouraged rather than discouraged.”

 

Originally posted on NextDoor by Communications Director Judy Putnam from City of Peachtree Corners

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