On Sept. 18, Oakwood voters approved the referendum for the tax district, which is an economic tool currently implemented in cities across the country to spur growth and development in areas of a defined district that are underutilized or underdeveloped.
Oakwood has joined Gainesville and Flowery Branch among the Hall County cities currently implementing a tax allocation district. In fact, the Atlanta-based Bleakly Advisory Group has acted as the consulting firm for all three cities, and is guiding the municipalities through the process that includes negotiations with Hall County government and school board.
Gary Mongeon, vice president of the Bleakly Advisory Group, explained that as public infrastructure is built within the district and new developers and residents are drawn to the area, assessed property values in the district are likely to increase.
The resulting incremental change in property value revenue that occurs between the establishment of the district and a future date can be pooled into a fund after the Hall County government and school board agree to forego that difference in revenue.
The 436-acre tax allocation district encompasses the corridor between Plainview Road and Thurmon Tanner Parkway, the corridor along Interstate 985, portions of Old Mundy Mill Road and the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Without increasing taxes for residents, the Oakwood tax allocation district is expected to generate roughly $9.95 million in future bonds.
The district-funded infrastructure and redevelopment projects could support more than 835,000 square feet of new commercial space and more than 400 housing units constructed during the next several years, which could generate roughly $122.3 million in future private investment.
In turn, the tax allocation district could ultimately generate $964,000 per year in new tax revenue to help finance capital improvements, according to Mongeon’s assessment.
The tax district is eligible to finance projects such as sewer expansion, street construction and expansion, water supply, park improvements, traffic control, landscaping, property acquisition and environmental remediation.
Although Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown said the city is still in the planning stages of determining its TAD projects, the construction project expanding Thurmon Tanner Parkway to a four lane road and extending it further to Mundy Mill Road will likely be supported in part by tax allocation district funds.
But the primary goal of the tax district is to establish a mixed-use downtown area for Oakwood.
"We’re trying to capture that sense of identity that comes with creating a downtown," Brown said.
Oakwood officials plan to work with Flowery Branch officials in negotiating an agreement with Hall County government and school board, since both cities are in similar stages of the TAD process and have hired the same consulting firm.
Brown said negotiations with Hall County are likely to begin early next year, and will determine financing details for the tax district.
The TAD will go into effect Dec. 31, and depending on negotiations with the county, could remain in existence for up to 30 years.