Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Atlanta Hotel-Motel Tax for New Falcons Stadium
(APN) ATLANTA — On Monday, March 16, 2015, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued their opinion, approving the construction of the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium, using a renewal from the City’s hotel/motel tax and related bond financing.
The ruling affirms an order issued in May 2014 by Fulton Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville validating the bonds.
The intervenors were Rev. William L. Cottrell, Sr.; “Mother” Mamie Lee Moore; Tracey Y. Bates; and John Lewis III.
“[T]here is nothing arbitrary or unreasonable about allowing the same taxing entities that already have experience paying for a multi-purpose domed stadium facility through the collection of a 7 percent hotel-motel tax… to collect such a tax in the future to fund a different stadium after the first tax has expired,” Justice Harold Melton wrote in his opinion, which was unanimously supported by the Court.
“I am pleased with today’s ruling and look forward to the completion of Atlanta’s newest world-class facility,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement.
“The new Atlanta stadium will generate $155 million in annual revenue within the city, secure the retention of the Atlanta Falcons in our downtown for another 30 years and create 1,400 well-paying jobs during the building’s construction. It will also keep the City of Atlanta at the forefront of the hospitality and tourism industry,” Reed said.
But attorney for the plaintiffs, John Woodham, tells Atlanta Progressive News that they believe the court got it wrong.
“The Court applied the incorrect Constitutional standard in Division 1 of the opinion, which is a major error, so we are filing a Motion for Reconsideration. If they actually applied the correct legal standard, they would be constrained to rule in our favor,” John Woodham, lead attorney for the lawsuit, said.
A motion for reconsideration is a legal filing which someone can make to ask a court to review a decision and consider issuing a new decision in light of the review.
Woodham, who has won cases at the Georgia Supreme Court in the past, is emerging from his long battle with the Georgia State Bar for presumed violations, from which he emerged victorious.
In green-lighting the bonds, the court not only gives the City of Atlanta the go-ahead to reimburse the Falcons for 200 million dollars in current construction costs, but upwards of a billion dollars in taxpayer dollars over the life of the project, according to a statement from Common Cause Georgia.
“With all of the information that has come to light over the course of this case, we know the citizens of Atlanta deserve a better deal,” William Perry, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia, stated in his release.
“Not even the Supreme Court would protect two thirds of Atlanta citizens or the 75% of Georgians who did not support the public financing of this project,” Perry said. “We applaud this group of citizens who bravely stood up in an attempt to hold power accountable.”