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Amendment 3 is bad public policy
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Editor, A coalition of developers, currently desperate because of the economic slowdown associated with the national mortgage credit crisis, are pushing for Amendment No. 3 on infrastructure development districts as a bailout for their overextended industry. The developers are making sweet talk about “quality development” and “infrastructure for underserved areas,” but they are really looking for a handout.
They want private businesses that are currently unable to meet their financial obligations to banks and mortgage companies to be able to levy taxes on their customers to pay the costs of lower interest loans this amendment will allow. These taxes will be in addition to ordinary property taxes and in addition to mortgage payments on the houses in these development districts. These new subsidized loans can legally be used to pay off earlier, private debt, and those costs can be shifted onto unwary homebuyers in the new districts. All that will be required for the developers to cash in on this golden opportunity is to persuade a majority of a county commission, one time, to vote to allow the creation of a development district. There is a requirement that only two hearings be held before taking such a vote. Little imagination is required to envision the combination of promises and threats that will accompany the rush to such a vote in many counties. Never mind the fact that county commissioners themselves can be made financial partners to the development district, and in voting approval also will vote themselves handsome rewards. Georgia does not lack for development. The state has grown dramatically over the last two decades, and if anything, it is now time to stop and take a break to assess what is needed to accommodate the growth we already have.
What Georgia really needs, instead of figuring out ways to help developers build more housing, is to encourage new businesses and new jobs in areas of the state that have eager workers and natural resources such as ample water supplies. Amendment No. 3 will be of little use in most of the “other Georgia.”

State Reps. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (Dist. 85), Wendell Willard (Dist. 49) and Mark Hatfield (Dist. 177)
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