Tuesday, November 11, 2008

(Comparatively Minor) CCSD Gripes

Great. Yet another parcel of very scarce land is being taken off of the property tax digest – courtesy of my tax dollars, no less. In lieu of the tax-paying restaurant originally envisioned for the site, the Clarke County School District is spending $125,000 for what is described as an “approximately one-acre” out-parcel created by the construction of that new shopping center on Cherokee Road, adjacent to the currently-being-renovated Winterville Elementary School. See pages 36-46 of the PDF.

The problem is that, even though Clarke County is the smallest by land area in the state (and I read somewhere the third smallest in the nation) and is already home to a tremendous amount of property tax-exempt land, the Unified Government and the Clarke County School District keep spending my tax dollars to even further reduce the amount of taxable land in the county (remember that 7.24 acres for the Middle Oconee Greenway back in July, which is just the latest in a long string of such acquisitions?).

Of course, the practical effect of these acquisitions is to shift an ever larger financial burden onto the backs of those home and business owners who still pay property taxes. As I have been saying for years, at some point this strategy is going to collapse.

Also, the CCSD is going after that same $3.2 million grant from the Technical College System of Georgia to build the Athens Community Career Academy, a charter school, for which it missed the deadline last year. In the same vein, the CCSD is applying for a U.S. Department of Labor YouthBuild grant to fund paid internships for the students of the proposed charter school.

I fully support the creation of a CCSD charter school, but must admit that I am disappointed that the only manner proposed to accomplish that goal involves relying on grants (especially when one considers that the CCSD could fund the entire thing out of its existing reserves and that relying on grants to fund ongoing expenses is problematic).

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1 comment:

Adrian said...

Thank you for monitoring our local governments and keeping us informed. Do you know what the outparcel will be used for?

At some point can you share your analysis behind your concern about the amount of tax-exempt property? I'm sure you've put some amount of thought behind it, though many make this sort of argument based on perception rather than facts. Specifically, there is often criticism about the amount of land occupied by UGA, though the reality seems to be that it pays for the county services it uses and provides many of its own services instead. As for ACC and the CCSD, perhaps you can enlighten me.