MARIETTA — Cobb schools officials aren’t happy about a tax break for a wealthy developer’s $103 million project that could take away as much as $756,000 annually from county schools.
Riverwalk, a mega-development to include 236 condos, 14 three-story townhomes and a 10-story office tower, will be the recipient of a property tax subsidy from the Development Authority of Cobb County.
The project didn’t meet the county’s requirements of creating 25 jobs and contributing $500,000 to the tax digest, but the Development Authority is moving ahead anyway with waiving property taxes. It has the authority to act on its own when offering tax abatements.
Cobb School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the process is moving too quickly, and he needs time to determine how losing that tax revenue could affect the school system that is facing an $80 million deficit.
Hinojosa sent a letter to the Cobb Board of Assessors saying he had “only recently learned of this initiative” and “this has the potential to have a significant impact financially on school funding,” but the board opted not to delay action.
Typically, Development Authority projects are filed with the assessors’ office 30 days before action is taken, providing time for review. Though the project was filed on Nov. 20, just 14 days before Tuesday’s meeting, the assessors’ office voted to waive its review period and move forward.
Cobb Schools Chairman Randy Scamihorn said he supports local businesses but is concerned about how quickly the tax deal is progressing. He’s not for or against Riverwalk’s tax break, but wants to learn more about how it could affect education in the county.
“I’m pro-Cobb County development, but we also have to make sure that our school systems have enough money to maintain our excellence in education,” Scamihorn said. “That’s why people want to come here.”