Atlanta Public Safety Training Center: Mayor’s office breaks down the budget

Rendering of proposed Atlanta Police Training Center (Atlanta Police Department )

The city of Atlanta says it will save nearly 15% over the next 30 years with the completion of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

A spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens broke down the plan, which can sometimes seem more confusing than it should, given the way the city says the deal with the Atlanta Police Foundation is structured.

What has been widely reported is the agreement for the city of Atlanta to make a one-time payment of just over $30 million to help finance the building of the training center.

The Atlanta Police Foundation would then raise $60 million, including a $20 million loan for its portion of the building costs. This agreement was passed in September 2021. In return, the APF would then "lease" the city the facility.

Right now, the city pays more than $1.4 million a year for its various public safety training venues and needs. The city pays that money out to various vendors and says it’s at the mercy of the current market value in the city, which many analysts say currently is the most overpriced in the country. The city also argues the current venues were not exactly created for the purpose of housing first responder training.

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This image shows a rendering of an academic classroom at the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. (City of Atlanta)

By signing a "lease" with APF, the city says it has locked in its annual "rent" for both police and fire departments fixed at $1.2 million. The mayor’s spokesperson says money goes to repaying the APF’s loan, as well as the facility's operational and maintenance expenses. It saves the city $200,000 annual or about $6 million over the 30 years, according to the mayor’s spokesperson.

The Atlanta City Council passed that resolution unanimously in December 2021.

Once the 30-year lease is over, the city will take over full ownership of the training center.

The city considers the annual payment budget neutral, if not a savings. The mayor’s spokesperson also says it consolidates several leases into one, simplifying the process.

The mayor’s office has said in the past it regrets not getting ahead of a well-organized opposition to the facility which has spread its own narrative. Several recent budget meetings have seen overwhelming opposition to the site.

Last week, the finance committee voted 5-1 to approve a plan for Atlanta to pay its share of the more than $30 million.

Committee member James Winston abstained and Committee member Liliana Bakhtiari was the sole "no" vote. 

"My district does not want this. I still lack clarity on some of the funding aspects. [I have] a lot of questions that have not been answered," Bakhtiari told FOX 5 on May 24, following the vote. "The city did not do a good job of messaging around this. We gave out a lot of mixed information. We didn’t know who was driving this project. There were missed signals between different entities."

The next full council meeting is slated for Monday, June 5 at 1 p.m. with additional budget meeting, including public hearings over the two days following.