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Smyrna Representative Discusses Development, Transparency

One of Smyrna's representatives under the gold dome shares his thoughts on how everyone involved in the Riverwalk tax abatement situation can learn and move forward.

Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) says that the Development Authority of Cobb County can become a more transparent organization in the wake of the Riverwalk tax abatement dispute. Credit: Patch File Photo
Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) says that the Development Authority of Cobb County can become a more transparent organization in the wake of the Riverwalk tax abatement dispute. Credit: Patch File Photo
One of Smyrna's elected leaders in the Georgia House of Representatives sees a positive outcome that could result from the recent abandonment of tax incentives offered to a $100 million development planned for the Cumberland Community Improvement District.

Representative Rich Golick, a Republican, told Patch that he saw the fallout between the Development Authority of Cobb County and the Cobb County Board of Education as a chance for more transparency and dialogue between the Development Authority and other bodies.

"I see it as an opportunity for any entity, when it has an issue like this, to take a giant step back and examine its own best practices and make some changes internally that could avoid a similar problem in the future," Golick said.

The problem Golick refers to comes from the proposed tax abatement offered by the Development Authority for the $100 million Riverwalk development that was planned for the Cumberland CID. The tax abatement would have seen the Cobb County School District, who was not consulted on the tax abatement, lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars of unrealized property tax income over the life of the abatement.

The Cobb Board of Education formally filed a protest against the abatement in court late last month, and the abatement request was withdrawn on Jan. 16, just before a hearing in Cobb Superior Court.

Golick said that the Development Authority was established to make sure that politics did not intermingle with "certain development discussions," but the representative still feels that organizations like the Development Authority still need to be accountable for their decisions.

According to Golick, now is the perfect opportunity for the Development Authority to "look in the mirror" and determine what caused the problem and what could have been done differently to avoid it.

Although Golick understands that some negotiations between governments and developers need to be carried out in secrecy to recruit new opportunities to the county, but hopes that in the future there will be a balance struck between accountability and secrecy.

When pressed to describe his ideal solution for the dispute between the Development Authority and the Board of Education, Golick declined to give an answer, as he felt it would not be prudent to speak on a matter that he is not directly involved in.

Golick did reiterate what he told the Marietta Daily Journal on Thursday, calling Development Authority board member Karen Hallacy's offer to resign from the board to allow a representative of the school system to sit in her place "bizarre."

"How a board conducts itself is bigger than one board member who may have misplaced priorities," Golick said.

Despite being a legislator, Golick hopes that legislation would not be necessary to affect a change in the way the Development Authority does business.

"Improvement should come from within," Golick said. "I think it would be more prudent for any development authority that needs to improve its practices to do it on their own."
naomi smith January 28, 2014 at 04:04 PM
"Bizarre" should be used to describe Mr. Golick's behavior. He's bashing the one Development Authority person who offered a real reform plan (which he can't seem to do). "Bizarre" would describe Mr. Golick falsely accusing Ms. Hallacy of something she never said (which the MDJ also falsely reported). She offered to give up the seat so the commissioners could give it to someone else if they wanted to put a school board member on. Perhaps Mr. Golick doesn't realize that Dev Auth members can't be kicked off so it was courageous that someone offered to make an opening available. Oh wait, perhaps the real reason Mr. Golick is ranting is because he doesn't want a smart, qualified person to unseat his ineffective, puppet buddy Mr. Dollar from his seat. That’s the real news.

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