Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell Recommends $13.7 Million from City Reserves for APS Beltline Payments
Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell is pushing to resolve the ongoing APS-Beltline payments dispute. Council President Mitchell is recommending that the Atlanta City Council set aside $13.7 million for payments owed to the school district.
Atlanta, Georgia, January 5, 2015 (Newswire.com) - Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell is aggressively doing everything in his power to resolve the contractual dispute between Atlanta Public Schools and the City of Atlanta for the sake of Atlanta’s children and Atlanta's intown neighborhoods. President Mitchell will ask the city council to set aside $13.7 million dollars from $137 million city reserves for the purpose of paying the past due amount owed to APS under the current agreement. When coupled with the more than $25 million lump sum previously paid by the city to APS in connection with the supreme court ruling, sequestering roughly 10% of the city’s reserve represents a significant commitment on the part of the city. While Mitchell is confident that this gesture represents a strong step in the right direction, he agrees that this show of good faith is only part of the solution.
"I humbly caution my committed friends at APS, who are working very hard to improve educational outcomes and transform our school system, not to misinterpret this good faith attempt to drive home a resolution as a capitulation on a number very critical issues," said Mitchell.
While It is undisputed that the City has an obligation to make good on the past due PILOT payments based on the current agreement, it is apparent that the economics that existed when the initial contract was struck no longer exist or at a minimum, will not exist for some time. A sustainable resolution to the current problem is much deeper than two annual installment payments. Additionally, the future implications of a strong City of Atlanta - APS relationship are far broader than the BeltLine.Promoting both community development and education are important to me, as an Atlanta native, and to so many other citizens because it is undeniable that world class cities must excel simultaneously in both of these areas.
In an Op Ed published in the Saporta Report, the council president proposes that the $13.7 million payment be preconditioned on the execution of a refashioned agreement between the parties within 60 days coupled with a commitment by BeltLine, Inc. to repay the city reserves over a reasonable period of time.
Last year, Mitchell brought the City Council and Board of Education together in an effort to elevate the issue, "I had no idea that many months later we would still be languishing in the hazy maze of discord. As a consequence, an unfortunate signal has been sent to taxpayers that the persons entrusted with the power to right track this issue lack either the motivation or the intent to find common ground," said President Mitchell. Mitchell continued, "even more grave, supporters of the BeltLine have been pitted against supporters of our schools, and parents like myself who believe in the promise of the BeltLine have been put in the untenable position of being forced to choose. Most disheartening is that our youth are stuck in the middle scratching their heads and asking what in the world are the adults doing," said Mitchell.
Nearly ten years ago, when Mitchell was a primary sponsor of the BeltLine legislation to unify and transform the Atlanta community, he launched the College Prep Series, an educational initiative to help local high school students and their parents prepare for the journey to college.
"Promoting both community development and education are important to me, as an Atlanta native, and to so many others citizens because it is undeniable that world class cities must excel simultaneously in both of these areas."
About Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell
Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell serves as 7th President of the Atlanta City Council. Prior to being elected Council President, Mitchell served eight years as a citywide Council member. As a public official, Mitchell advocates for safer communities through specific initiatives including police foot patrols. He has championed key legislation facilitating economic revitalization in underdeveloped areas.