May 16, 2023 – The Carroll County Board of Education and the Villa Rica City Council each have approved an intergovernmental agreement to govern Villa Rica’s Eastside Tax Allocation District and guide future development in the City.
The agreement commits future property tax growth within the Eastside TAD to fund infrastructure improvements there, and gives the school system representation on a joint commission that will have a voice in future development throughout the City.
The School Board approved the intergovernmental agreement during a meeting on Monday, May 15. Villa Rica City Council approved the agreement on Friday, May 12.
“From the school board’s perspective, approval of this intergovernmental agreement was important to gain a voice in the development of the TAD and a seat at the table in considering other development inside the Villa Rica City Limits,” Carroll County Board of Education Chairman Bryant Turner said. “The City and the school board committed to a thorough process that would craft a partnership all parties can support.”
The Eastside TAD is a geographical area of Villa Rica roughly bounded by Highway 78 and Highway 61 on the south and north, and by Mirror Lake Boulevard / Punkintown Road to the east. It consists of five distinct areas of potential development, or nodes, although the agreement between the City and School Board only pertains to three of those nodes.
As those areas develop, they are expected to increase in value. The increase in tax revenues from that development would be allocated to pay for new water and sewer services within the TAD, as well as for the Eastside Connector, linking the Mirror Lake community to downtown, and another road extending to Tanner Medical Center / Villa Rica.
The intergovernmental agreement is complex, but it allows the City to issue an 18-year Urban Renewal Authority bond in the amount of $21.2 million to fund infrastructure within the Eastside TAD’s Nodes 1-3. The board of education is committing 13.5 of its current 17.5 mills of its taxing authority within the TAD toward repayment of the bond. Millage collected by the school system above this amount will continue to be used to support the operational costs of the school system.
“The city has been working on this Tax Allocation Project for almost two years and we’ve been engaged in earnest talks with the school system since November of last year,” said Villa Rica Mayor Gil McDougal. “This has been a hard process and there’s been a lot of moving parts. I especially want to thank Scott Cowart and Bryant Turner for their leadership, and the hard work of Dr. Bernice Brooks, Kerry Miller, and the other board members in making this agreement possible.”
The two entities will create a seven-seat joint commission to govern proposed annexation south of the current city limit and to review any proposed multi-family or high-density developments anywhere in the City. The commission will be made up of three City appointees, three BOE appointees and one appointee representing the Carroll County Board of Commissioners and will operate for the length of the bond repayment, which is expected to be 18 years at most.
The City of Villa Rica is committing to encourage commercial, retail, and industrial development along Highway 61 south of Interstate 20 and to revise its comprehensive plan and future land use map to reflect this. The TAD itself includes age and bedroom restrictions within Node 3 that are intended to help limit enrollment growth for the schools. Additionally, the City has committed to seek age restriction agreements with builders in the Node 5 development area of the TAD.
“We are already seeing growth in Villa Rica, and we know more is coming,” Turner said. “This agreement gives us the opportunity to work with the City to bring in growth that will make Villa Rica and the school district better.”
School Superintendent Scott Cowart said the school system appreciates the opportunity to strengthen its partnership with the City.
“Throughout this process, we’ve been able to sit down across the table with the city and talk openly and honestly about our needs and their needs,” Cowart said. “We are able to talk about how growth impacts each of us, and we think the joint commission will be an excellent way to stay engaged at the table in the future.”
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