Some Smyrna residents want to know where the tax dollars they contributed to Tax Allocated District (TAD) funding for Jonquil Village went. According to Smyrna city officials, the money never left their pockets.
At a recent roundtable meeting with Smyrna City Council Representative Teri Anulewicz, a Ward 3 resident asked about Jonquil Village and whatever happened to the Tax Allocated District (TAD) funding that was used on the development. According to city officials, no taxpayer money was ever used for Jonquil Village.
“That’s a very common misconception,” Anulewicz said. “No taxpayer money was ever put into that.”
Establishing Smyrna's Tax Allocated District
In 2003, the city, county and school board agreed to establish a 140-acre Tax Allocated District in Smyrna’s downtown area along Atlanta Road that included Belmont Hills shopping center, nearby apartment properties on Windy Hill Road and Jonquil Plaza shopping center.
Andrea Hall, city of Smyrna economic development, explained that the measure capped the property value of the developments within the district at 2003 levels. This meant that any additional value created on top of the capped value could be used for funding projects within the TAD.
“Let’s say within the TAD area you had $1 million of property in 2010,” she said. “The hope would be by using any future increment on that you could issue bonds on that money. And let’s suppose you have a new $50 million project, you could issue bonds on that. And then any increment that’s created over that million dollars is used to pay down the value on those bonds. Of course when the bonds are paid off, all of that increment is added back on to the tax rolls.”
Qualifying for TAD Funding
Hall said that certain criteria must be met before a redevelopment project can qualify for TAD funding. First all entities providing funding (in the case of Smyrna’s TAD the city, county and the school board) must approve the project.
Second, the TAD funding can only be used on projects for public purposes like sidewalks. In the case of Jonquil Village, the site plan proposed in 2008 was a mixed-use development that would have required a parking deck. TAD funding would have been used for the parking deck had the project proceeded.
Finally, Hall said that according to state law, the project must pass the “but for test,” which means that the project would not be possible without TAD funding.
“The original Jonquil was a pretty complicated project,” Hall said. “They wanted something there that was the redevelopment of the shopping center. They wanted housing on that property and to do that you had to build a parking deck to fit everything on there. Parking decks are very expensive. And that’s one of the reasons TAD funding was applied for and used.”
In 2006, the city, county and school board agreed that Jonquil Village met all these criteria and approved the use of TAD funding for the development.
Jonquil Village Today
Six years later, there is no mixed-use development at the site of Jonquil Plaza on Atlanta Road and Hall said no TAD funding was ever collected.
“All those bonds never got issued because the project never got far enough along,” she said. “(The project) went kaput before we ever had the opportunity to do that. That’s why there’s never been any tax money actually paid into the project.”
for the property. who said they are creating the site plan with Publix in mind as the anchor store.
Hall said that Branch has not expressed interested in pursuing TAD funding for the development and probably wouldn’t qualify for it anyway as a retail-only shopping center would not meet the state’s “but for test.”
She added that because property tax revenues have plummeted nationwide in the wake of the recession, it’s highly likely that the current tax revenue generated from properties in the TAD is lower than the cap set in 2003.
“The values are set at what the 2003 values are, given first of all that the economy has taken a huge hit and values in the TAD have gone down, that means most likely that the values in the TAD are not at the same levels they were in 2003," Hall said. "Not to mention in 2003 when the TAD was created there were buildings actually sitting on Jonquil and sitting on Belmont Hills that created value and those are no longer there.”