Ward V Albany City Commissioner Bob Langstaff illustrates traffic problems in the area surrounding Lake Park Elementary School in Albany during Tuesday’s commission meeting. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — The Albany City Commission approved with a nonbinding vote Tuesday morning an amendment that would dissolve the Tax Allocation District Advisory Committee created to oversee spending of tax funds in the city’s special tax district.
The committee had been created at the suggestion of the Dougherty County School Board, which collects slightly more than 50 percent of the tax money in the city, as a way for school officials to monitor spending of new tax funds collected in the TAD, which encompasses the downtown historic district and a large swath of East Albany. School officials now say they see no need to continue committee oversight.
“The reason the TAD Advisory Committee exists is that the School Board insisted on it,” City Manager James Taylor said. “Since they collect the largest percentage of taxes in the community — around 51 percent, with the city and county collecting around 25 percent each — school officials wanted to monitor the TAD projects.
“I’ve talked with Superintendent (Butch) Mosely, and he said the School Board trusts the process. It has become difficult for their members to attend advisory meetings. We will continue to give the School Board — and the county, as well as this board — reports on the TAD collections and the projects they are funding.”
Downtown Manager Aaron Blair, who also serves as director of the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority — which has been empowered by the City Commission to manage the spending of TAD funds — said eliminating the committee will do away with an unnecessary layer of red tape.
“The amendments we’re proposing to the (TAD) intergovernmental agreement between the city, the county and the School Board will streamline the process (of TAD allocations),” Blair said. “Officials with the School Board and the county have agreed that elimination of that committee will cut out a level of red tape.”
The commission also voted, on an amended motion by Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff, to hold off on a request by Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta to erect stop signs at Kenilworth and Meadowlark drives, essentially creating a four-way stop at an intersection adjacent to Lake Park Elementary School. A student at the school was hit by a car recently when he ran into the street to chase a ball.
Dougherty County School System Police Chief Troy Conley asked the city to seriously consider Marietta’s request.
“That area has been an area of concern for the school system since around 2005,” Conley said. “My opinion is that the additional stop signs would help greatly, but we would appreciate any and all assistance you could give that will help us assure the safety of our students.”
Langstaff, who drew an illustration of the area of concern, initially made a motion to install the stop signs, but he amended that motion when Taylor indicated such signs may not be the best solution to the problem.
“We have not done a study because this body did not ask for one; you asked for stop signs,” Taylor said. “That’s not a state road, so I ain’t going to jail if I put up a sign. But right now, to the best of our knowledge without doing a study, the situation at that location does not warrant putting up signs.
“There are other things we can do, and if given the time and the direction we could explore those possibilities.”
Langstaff amended his motion to give city Engineering until the end of March to determine the best solution for child safety at the site, and the board passed the new motion unanimously.
Taylor told Conley, “In the future, if there are problem areas, I would appreciate you letting us know before a student is hit.”