Status of Ordinances to Mitigate Loss from Tree Trust Fund Due to Lake Charlotte Purchase

The $7.6 million taken from the Tree Trust Fund (TTF) for the Lake Charlotte purchase likely will hinder future forested land purchases, especially if future purchases are shackled with similar exorbitant maintenance costs which shouldn't be charged to the TTF to begin with. To prevent future raiding of the TTF for expenses associated with passive park development and not tree maintenance, City Council members J.P. Matzigkeit and Dustin Hillis submitted Ordinance 20-O-1337 to the Committee on Community Development and Human Services on May 12, 2020 to limit how much TTF money can be spent on maintenance for future land purchases. And Council member Michael Julian Bond submitted Ordinance 20-O-1338 at the same Committee meeting, seeking reimbursement of the $625,000 of maintenance fees associated with the Lake Charlotte land purchase ordinance to the TTF within three years.

Ordinance 20-O-1337

This ordinance to curb how much can be spent on future land purchases on “maintenance costs” is currently on hold in the CDHS Committee at Matzigkeit’s request while he gathers further input. The Tree Next Door and the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods Tree Canopy Committee have already provided Matzigkeit their input on this ordinance, specifically in regard to the 20% percentage cap which would be too high for more expensive properties in other parts of Atlanta.  We also take issue with the ordinance’s recommendation to use the Tree Trust Fund to pay for security fencing or staff and contractors for work that doesn’t relate directly to the protection, maintenance, and regeneration of trees as stipulated in Section 158-66 of the Tree Protection Ordinance.

Since City Council is now in budget hearings, Matzigkeit says it’s likely that it will not be until July when his legislation is reviewed.

Ordinance 20-O-1338

The ordinance to recoup the maintenance money tied to the land purchase ordinance for Lake Charlotte was discarded by the CDHS Committee at Bond's request. Bond's ordinance did not address the non-tree related expenses in the maintenance ordinance passed separately from the land purchase ordinance. Also, Bond has not yet responded to an email from the The Tree Next Door asking for more information about his efforts to reimburse the Tree Trust Fund for inappropriately charged maintenance fees as a result of the Lake Charlotte purchase.

Related Articles:

City Council Approves $2.3 Million of Park Maintenance Fees to Be Paid From Tree Trust Fund

City Council Committee Votes to Mispend Even MORE Tree Trust Fund Money

Forested Land Purchase Ordinances Include Expenses That Shouldn't Be Paid Out of Tree Trust Fund

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