Atlanta Public Schools stands behind threat to sue city over Beltline funds

by: Richard Belcher Updated:

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ATLANTA - There is no indication that the Atlanta school board is backing away from its threat to sue the city of Atlanta over millions of dollars in tax money related to the Atlanta Beltline.

One school board member suggested the city has the money to settle the dispute right now.  

Channel 2 Action News first reported Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's anger after school superintendent Errol Davis went public with a threat to take the city to court.

Reed told the Beltline board and Channel 2 that he does not negotiate at the end of a gun barrel.

School board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown is also on the Beltline board and was present when Reed said of the school board-- that if the school board was going to take hostages, they better be ready to shoot the hostages.

 “I was a little uncomfortable with using the words ‘children’ and ‘shooting hostages’ in the same conversation,” Brown said.

Kasim said he believes Davis should not have made a public threat to sue over what the school system contends is $19 million it has owed in Beltline-related property taxes.

Reed pointed out that the Beltline is far more popular than Atlanta Public Schools.

 “I don't think that it is the job of government to fund projects based solely based on popularity. Sometimes we need to do what's right,” Brown said.

Brown told Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher that this is not a personal dispute between the mayor and Davis, who is set to leave office June 30.

Reed said he wants to renegotiate the Beltline contract among the city, the development authority and the school board to take into account the huge drop in property values during the recession.

Brown says promises were made and need to be kept.

When asked whether the school district will decide whether to go to court by the superintendent's suggested deadline of July 1, Brown said it is up to the school board and the superintendent.


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