JONESBORO — The Clayton County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to appoint retired banker Regina Deloach to one of two new Development Authority of Clayton County seats.
Clayton County Commissioner Demont Davis made the motion to appoint Deloach, with Chairman Jeff Turner seconding.
The vote followed bickering over whether Deloach met the statutory county taxpayer requirements, hearkening back to last year's brief appointment of Jonesboro City Manager Ricky L. Clark Jr. as DACC chair.
On Oct. 16, 2018, Clark gave a presentation to the BOC on bringing MARTA and issuing bonds for a development like The Battery in Mountain View.
At the next meeting on Nov. 6, 2018, Commissioners Gail Hambrick, Sonna Singleton Gregory and Michael Edmondson successfully ousted Ricky Clark and replaced him with Whayne Clark. The stated issue was whether or not Ricky Clark owned real property in Clayton County. The BOC then sought legislative clarification on whether board appointees had to own a home within Clayton County as a prerequisite.
House Bill 34, which legislators say was originally requested by the city of Forest Park to clarify issues on its development boards, would amend state code to allow both business owners and residents who pay ad valorem taxes, on either real or personal property in Clayton County, to serve on appointed development authority boards. Personal property includes airplanes, boats, farm equipment, livestock and business assets like inventory, furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment.
The proposed bill, which did not get to the floor for a vote before the session ended, states, "The directors shall be residents or licensed business owners paying ad valorem taxes on real or personal property within the county or municipal corporation for which the authority is created."
Hambrick asked, "On these appointments, do we know that they're taxpaying citizens of Clayton County, residents of Clayton County?"
"Yes, the due diligence has been done," replied Chairman Turner.
"OK. Are they taxpaying citizens?" Hambrick reiterated.
"Yes, if you live in Clayton County, in some form or fashion, you're a taxpayer," Turner said.
"No, no no," Hambrick said. "A property tax payer."
"Show me where it says specifically taxpayer, property taxpayer," Turner said.
"I'm asking you a question," Hambrick said.
"And I just answered it," replied Turner.
"Mr. Chair, based on the ordinance, it does not specifically state what type of ad valorem tax can be defined as," said Commissioner Felicia Franklin Warner. "Mr. Chuck (Reed, county attorney), please? Define what the ad valorem tax is for the record ... list out all the taxes that are paid in Clayton County."
"All the taxpayers that are paying to, or in?" Reed asked. "You pay property, personal, ad valorem, not all those taxes go — "
"Occupational, sales tax," Turner added.
"Not all those taxes go to Clayton County but they are paid by people who live in Clayton County," Reed said.
"So let's make it even better," Warner said. "Which ones come to Clayton County? List them, please."
"Well, off the top of my head, I would say occupational for one, your real estate taxes, I would say that would be one," Reed replied. "I'm sure there are others, but those are two that would be the first to come to the top of my head."
"And ad valorem, right?" Warner said. "Property, personal, ad valorem, occupational, correct?"
"Any other questions?" Turner asked.
"Yes. Did they say what kind of tax they pay?" said Hambrick.
"So with that ordinance, with that state law, whatever they enacted with the Development Authority, that's all we're asking," said Commissioner Sonna Singleton Gregory. "What is that interpretation of the tax? I mean, is it residential tax, residence tax?"
"The word just simply says 'taxpayer,'" Reed said. "That's all it says. It just says 'taxpayer.'"
"It doesn't specify what kind of taxes," Turner said.
Clayton County property tax records show Deloach, who lost a bid to unseat Gregory in District 1 last May, owns a home in the Rock Creek subdivision of Rex. Her appointment was effective May 23.
Watch the full BOC meeting at https://bit.ly/30RhoLW
Read DACC agendas and minutes at https://bit.ly/2sGk7bo
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