Warner Robins changes gift policy, pushes forward with TAD

Warner Robins changes gift policy, pushes forward with TAD

Daniel Cummings of the Middle Georgia Regional Commission talks about the proposed tax allocation district at a public hearing during the Warner Robins City Council meeting 10-5-15.

A public hearing on a recently proposed tax allocation district drew only one question from the public at a City Council meeting Monday night.

The council did not vote on the proposal.

Daniel Cummings, senior government service specialist for the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, explained the TAD was proposed under the city’s 2012 Urban Redevelopment Plan.

“In 2012, the timing wasn’t cohesive to getting the tax allocation district solidified,” Cummings said. “So council has determined, along with the mayor, that now is a good time to engage that.”

The Warner Robins Redevelopment Agency proposed a new TAD in September in hopes it would attract a developer to build and operate a hotel and conference center beside City Hall at the site of the current recreation center. A TAD would allow property values within a defined district to increase incrementally over 30 years. Taxes collected above the original property value, which is $55.5 million in the proposed district, would go into a special fund for redevelopment in the area.

David Cooke, who questioned the council at its last meeting about the EB-5 foreign investment program it’s considering, wanted to know if EB-5 was in any way linked with the TAD. Cummings said there’s no relation between the two.

The council originally was scheduled to vote on a resolution that would commit the city to creating a TAD, but that measure was removed from the agenda before the meeting.

“There was some confusion on that, and it was really not supposed to be on there,” Mayor Randy Toms said before the meeting. “The only thing we’re going to have (tonight) is a public hearing.”

The proposed TAD includes 355 parcels beside Ga. 247, spanning from Duke Avenue to Martin Luther King Boulevard and stretching east between Young Avenue and Robins Drive before ending near Davis Drive and Commercial Circle.

With approval from the council, the Houston County school board and the Houston County Commission, the district would be established Dec. 31. Cummings said the council is expected to vote on a resolution at its Oct. 19 meeting.

In other business Monday, the council voted unanimously to change the city’s gifts, gratuities and solicitation policy to allow city employees to accept money, gifts or loans valued at no more than $100. The previous ordinance included a maximum of $30.

In the pre-council meeting, Toms said the $30 limit is antiquated and has been around since 1984.

“Legend has it that (the $30 limit) has something to do with the price of Georgia Bulldogs tickets. I don’t know if that’s true or not,” Toms said. “My concern was, last year I had some employees here in City Hall who were given gifts of even a ham from HoneyBaked Ham for Christmas or even a coupon for it. They brought it to me. ... I had to tell them they couldn’t accept it, and that’s a little heartbreaking for me.”

Councilman Mike Davis said the change appropriately reflects the rise of the cost of living because UGA football tickets now cost about $90 for two.



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