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City hasn’t paid its $10M debt from Gulch compromise, says school system

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Substantial payment to APS is reportedly more than three months late

Downtown Atlanta’s horrible Gulch, in photos.
The Gulch, downtown’s desolate pit of parking lots and railroad tracks.
Curbed Atlanta

Just when it seemed Atlanta Public Schools’s beef with the city was in the proverbial rearview, more drama has emerged around a deal the two parties made regarding the nearly $2 billion incentives package that would help develop downtown’s Gulch.

The school district and the City of Atlanta had been at odds for months over how property taxes would be used to progress the potentially $5 billion project.

In January, the city and APS came to a compromise: The city was to pay the school system $15 million through 2023, and APS agreed to eschew future property taxes yielded by the Gulch site through 2038.

That deal, which was signed on January 7, also called on the city to make a one-time, $10 million payment to APS, which would help the system replenish cash it had used to balance its budget and could boost teacher salaries and support other programs.

That payment was supposed to have been made 10 days after the deal was struck, but more than three months later, APS is still waiting on the City of Atlanta to turn over a check, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The overarching Gulch vision.
Rendering courtesy of CIM Group; designs, Perkins + Will

Now, APS officials are hoping the City of Atlanta will reaffirm its promise to pay its debt, as well as the millions more that the government will owe in the future.

APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said the city has indicated it has the money, but it’s “not prepared to pay,” according to the AJC.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s office told the publication the $10 million is being placed in an escrow account from which it will be transferred to APS in the near future.

The mayor’s press secretary said a lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court on January 14, which suggests the January 7 compromise wasn’t properly approved, has been the root of the delay. The two parties will work to find another compromise, per the press secretary, should the litigation drag on.