Atlanta City Council receives a briefing on the APS/Beltline $19 million debt

The Atlanta City Council met on Monday to gather more information regarding the dispute over the $19 million debt that the Beltline owes APS. City Council President Ceasar Mitchell convened the meeting and, as reported by WABE,

 “Just assume that we need to understand very clearly what the game plan is to move this conversation to a successful conclusion,” said Mitchell.

Negotiations have stalled and APS and city leaders have traded accusations publicly.

Mitchell provided the Beltline executives an opportunity to address the outstanding issues, but the Beltline officials only referred to the May 30th memo they had previously provided and offered no new facts on the matter. And when asked for further details, they indicated that any discussion on the amounts owed needed to be in Executive Session as they related to potential litigation.

Beltline CEO Paul Morris told Council members he was concerned about the direction of the talks. “Any public discussions that are part of a private series of negotiations are problematic and do impact public perceptions and certainly impact our ability to raise funds at a critical junction,” said Morris. 

In a separate article WABE also reported,

…Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell said the dispute was at a standstill and the rhetoric needed to be toned down. He said it was time to resolve the issue so it doesn’t affect Meria Carstarphen, who officially becomes the school system’s leader next week.

“This new superintendent has got to be focused on transforming APS and this issue will do nothing more than saddle her efforts to do that,” said Mitchell.

APS board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown was also in attendance and responded to questions from the City Council members. Ms. Brown indicated that APS wanted to find an amicable solution that would maintain the Beltline project while at the same time provide APS with the funds needed to support educational priorities.

During the meeting it was disclosed that Mayor Reed would be the lead negotiator for the City and, as reported by WXIA, retiring Superintendent Davis will represent APS to try to resolve the dispute.

Atlanta Board of Education Chair Courtney English has appointed Davis as an advisor to the Board work exclusively on the dispute with the city of Atlanta over a $19 million Beltline payment.

“Superintendent Davis has done an incredible job stabilizing our school district and putting it on the right track,” said Atlanta Board of Education Chair Courtney English, in a press release. “I am confident that he can help us resolve this issue sooner rather than later.”

The City Council will convene another meeting on the issue next week.

For more background on the issue, see here and here.

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon]

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