The city of Sandy Springs wants us to debate the number of seats in the [proposed performing arts] theater [inside the planned city center] and the issue should be what should we spend $197 million on in the coming years to improve our city?
I prefer my tax dollars to be spent on police, parks and paving instead of adding a performing arts theater. The new city center tax project will require bond issues and we no longer have a pay-as-you-go redevelopment plan. The city is not only leaving the pay-as-you-go model and issuing bonds, but it is also instituting a new tax policy — payment in lieu of taxes. If folks really want a performing arts center, I prefer asking businesses in the area to pay a performance building tax to defer the costs of the improvements of the performing arts center in that area. It is no different than the self-taxing Perimeter [Community] Improvement Districts.
Near my hometown of Spartanburg, S.C., the city of Newberry assesses businesses a historic district tax to support its opera house, which attracts visitors to its downtown. The Sandy Springs Council must balance attracting business but not “give away the store” at the expense of current taxpayers.
The city council needs everyone’s input on how we spend our tax dollars and not just focus on the size of the performing arts center. We need to give council feedback in hopes better ideas are formed from these exchanges.
Tochie A. Blad