Major Accomplishments Highlights

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Fiscal Year 2019

•           Phillips Arena:  The Law Department assisted in the negotiation of the Memorandum of Understanding among the City, the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, Arena Co., and the Atlanta Hawks (the “MOU”) requiring the Atlanta Hawks remain at Phillips Arena through the last day of the Team’s 2047-2048 NBA season. Further the Law Department provided legal guidance on the issuance of one hundred thirty-seven million, four hundred sixty thousand dollars ($137,460,000) in revenue refunding and improvement bonds for Phillips Arena renovations to be paid from Car Rental Tax and one hundred fifty-two million dollars ($152,000,000) in lease revenue refunding and improvement bonds for Phillips Arena renovations to be paid from lease payments by the arena operator.

•           Sale of the Civic Center: The Law Department provided legal advice for the sale of the Civic Center to the Atlanta Housing Authority for thirty-one million dollars ($31,000,000). The Civic Center was one of the City’s last prime in-town parcels and redevelopment of this site provides an invaluable opportunity for the City to increase affordable housing within Atlanta’s in-town communities.

•           Gulch Land Swap: In connection with the Gulch transaction and pursuant to Ordinance 17-O-1793 as amended by Ordinance 18-O-1484, the Atlanta City Council approved an exchange transaction with CIM of certain City property located at 2 City Plaza in exchange for certain CIM property located at 175 and 185 Spring Street and certain property owned or to be potentially owned by CIM located at 160 Trinity Avenue. The parties are currently negotiating with terms of the exchange agreement. On March 18, 2019, City Council adopted Ordinance 19-O-1112 which authorized the City to enter into a 10-year lease agreement with CIM for the 160 Trinity Avenue property.   The City will be pay rent into escrow during the lease term, and the rent will be refunded to the City when the Gulch bonds are validated and the exchange transaction is closed.

•           143 Alabama Transaction: Legislation was adopted authorizing: (1) land assemblage required for a land swap with MARTA and a purchase from the AFCRA; (2) the transfer of the assembled property to Invest Atlanta and sale of the same to Pope & Land; and (3) the purchase from Pope & Land of a condominium unit at 143 Alabama for office space. The terms of the agreements between the parties are being negotiated. 

•           APS Deed Transfers: The Law Department led negotiations with APS and drafted legislation to authorize the transfer of Grove Park/Woodson Elementary to APS. The Law Department is working with APS, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Enterprise Assets Management, and the Administration to resolve the outstanding issues and introduce legislation to transfer the remaining 7 properties to APS.

•           Bitsy Grant Sublease: The Law Department is working with the Bobby Jones Foundation and the Department of Parks and Recreation to finalize negotiations for the City’s sublease of the substitute hard courts at the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center. Legislation authorizing the sublease was approved as part of the 2017 Bobby Jones land swap with the State of Georgia.

•           Bobby Jones Clubhouse Sublease and MOU: Legislation was adopted authorizing a non-profit group to sublease the Bobby Jones Clubhouse and manage the adjacent park. The Law Department is working with Councilmember Matzigkeit and the Department of Parks and Recreation to finalize the sublease and MOU with the non-profit group. 

•           Solid Waste Rate Structure Overhaul Legislation: The Law Department provided legal assistance with the solid waste rate structure for all solid waste collections in the City. After months of public hearings and substitutions, the legislation drafted by the Law Department received unanimous approval by City Council on November 5, 2018. Having operated under the same flat rates and conditions for approximately 14 years, the solid waste enterprise fund was experiencing annual rising costs, leading to expenses that outpaced revenue. Revising the solid waste rate structure helped the City fund a path forward for better operations, improved services, and a sustainable business model.  

•           Flood Damage Revenue Recovery: The Law Department recovered over six million, seven hundred thousand dollars ($6,700,000) from FEMA/GEMA for flood damage to a Department of Watershed Management facility. This was the product of several years of negotiations and administrative appeals.

•           FEMA/GEMA Recovery: The Law Department provided legal advice to the Department of Finance in efforts to recover monies related to a city-wide flood event in 2009. The Law Department recovered $15.3M during Q3-Q4 and over $39 million since 2011.

•           Impact Fees: The Law Department worked with City Council and the Mayor’s Office to re-establish the Impact Fee Advisory Committee. Among other tasks, the re-established Advisory Committee will review the impact fee study prepared in 2017 by Duncan Associates and Kimley-Horn & Associates, and recommend whether the City’s impact fee ordinance should be updated based on the 2017 study. The Law Department will work with the Advisory Committee, City Council and the Mayor’s Office on any proposed amendments to the City’s impact fee ordinance.

•           Police Pension Fund – IRS Penalty Elimination: The Law Department was able to eliminate six hundred fifty thousand dollars ($650,000) in penalties and interest as a result of negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS imposed fines and penalties due to late payments made by the fund administrator (Zenith) for tax years 2012, 2014, and 2016. 

•           Homeless Opportunity Project: The Law Department provided legal guidance on the issuance of twenty-five million, seven hundred thousand ($25,700,000) of Atlanta Development Authority revenue bonds for the purpose of aiding homelessness initiatives throughout Atlanta.

•           BeltLine T-SPLOST Project: The Law Department provided legal guidance on the financing of forty-seven million dollars ($47,000,000) in revenue bonds for BeltLine expansion projects.

•           Atlantic Station Refunding: The Law Department provided legal guidance and assisted in the refunding of Atlantic Station TAD bonds in the amount of eighty-five million, three hundred eighty thousand dollars ($85,380,000), which represented present value savings to the City of twenty-one million, five hundred ninety-six thousand, one hundred eighty-seven dollars ($21,596,187) or 16.376%.

•           Zoo Atlanta Parking Facility: The Law Department provided legal guidance on the issuance of thirty million, three hundred ninety thousand dollars ($30,390,000) in revenue bonds. The issuance was to fund the construction of a parking facility for Zoo Atlanta.

•           Housing Opportunity Project: The Law Department provided legal guidance on the issuance of sixty-three million, six hundred eighty-five thousand dollars ($63,685,000) of Urban Residential Finance Authority bonds for the purpose of aiding affordable housing initiatives throughout Atlanta.  

•           Georgia Municipal Association Certificates of Participation: The Law Department provided legal guidance on the issuance of forty-three million, three hundred thirty-five thousand dollars ($43,335,000) of Georgia Municipal Association certificates of participation for public safety projects.  

•           Ostara USA Master Lease: The Law Department provided legal guidance on eleven million dollars ($11,000,000) of nutrient recovery system financing for the Department of Watershed Management.  

•           Rodney Cook Sr. Park: The Law Department successfully negotiated an agreement with the National Monument Foundation for the development of Rodney Cook Sr. Park in Historic Vine City.

•           Mayor’s Office of Entertainment: The Law Department provides legal advice and services to the Mayor’s Office of Entertainment, which serves as Atlanta’s ambassador to the motion picture industry.  The Law Department has drafted and negotiated contracts with major Hollywood production studios for film and television projects including Marvel’s Black Panther and The Avengers, Pitch Perfect 3, Family Feud, Stranger Things and the Fast and the Furious film franchise. The Department provided legal support for creation of the ground-breaking Atlanta Entertainment Job Training Partnership Program and advised on initiatives that led to Atlanta being named #1 City for filmmakers to live and work by MovieMaker Magazine.

•           Worldwide Airports Lawyers Association: In October 2018, a Law Department attorney was a presenter at the Worldwide Airports Lawyers Association annual conference in London. She provided expert analysis on biometrics and our Airport.

•           Title VI Compliance: Law Department attorneys are coordinating with the Department of Procurement and the Airport to ensure the City remains in compliance with requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act in City procurements and contracts.

•           Small Cell Networks: Because of the increased passenger travel that comes with hosting a Super Bowl, the Law Department negotiated agreements with small cell networks to increase connectivity throughout the Airport.

•           Safety Act Certification: The Law Department is helping the Airport apply for designation and certification from the Department of Homeland Security to receive legal liability protection for qualified anti-terrorism technologies.

•           Airport 2030 Capital Plan: The Law Department continues to provide legal advice related to projects associated with the Airport’s 2030 Master Plan, which includes the recommended $6.2 billion dollar development for the Airport.

•           Open Records Requests: The Law Department assisted in the review of numerous documents and responded to multiple open records requests regarding: (1) the December 17, 2017 power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, (2) the City’s March 22, 2018 cyberattack, and (3) the City Auditor’s Construction Audit report.

•           ATLNext: The Law Department provided legal support for construction projects associated with the Department of Aviation’s over $6 billion capital improvement plan, including but not limited to modernization of the central passenger terminal complex and construction of an additional parking deck.

•           Green Acres:  The Law Department assisted in the procurement process and preparation of sustainable design, build, finance, operate and maintenance agreement related to the repurposing of municipal solid waste generated by H-JAIA.

•           Cyber Insurance Claim: The Law Department, in collaboration with Risk Management, Atlanta Information Management and the Office of Emergency Preparedness, as well as in conjunction with outside counsel, is assisting in the preparation and submission of insurance claims, which total approximately $5.4M as of March 8, 2019, related to the City’s March 22, 2018 cyberattack.

•           Emergency Back-Up Generators at H-JAIA:  Prepared contracts to provide 100% emergency generation of the Central Passenger Terminal Complex at H-JAIA.

•           FIFA World Cup 2026: The Law Department worked on legal matters related to Atlanta’s bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. On March 15, 2018, the United Bid Committee included Atlanta as one of 23 cities to potentially host games in 2026. The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first tournament with the expanded 48-team format and will require world-class facilities and infrastructure. FIFA is expected to announce the 2026 Host in June 2018.

•           Plane Train Tunnel West Extension:  As part of ATLNext, H-JAIA’s over $6 billion capital improvement program, Law assisted the Department of Aviation in the successfully procurement and execution of progressive design build agreement for extension of the plane train tunnel, which is the first instance of this alternative construction delivery method at H-JAIA. 

•           Guaranteed Energy Performance Contracts: The Law Department provided legal guidance on one hundred forty-four million, eight hundred ten thousand, five hundred four dollars ($144,810,507) of financing for energy savings initiatives and equipment on behalf of the Office of Enterprise Assets Management, the Department of Aviation, and the Department of Watershed Management.

•           Solar Energy Procurement Agreement: The Law Department negotiated and executed the second solar energy procurement agreement involving a municipality in the state of Georgia.

•           Smart Cities – Georgia Tech Data Sharing Agreement and Traffic Solutions: The Law Department negotiated complex technology and data sharing agreements with various private and public entities including a key government university partnership agreement with the Georgia Institute of Technology.  This partnership will enable the City to leverage big data analytics to improve the City’s operations and transform the City’s infrastructure.   

•           Emory/CDC Annexation: The Law Department provided legal services for the Emory/CDC Annexation, which is the largest Atlanta annexation in nearly 70 years, containing 744 acres of internationally renowned educational and health institutions. 

•           City of Atlanta General Employees’ Pension Fund and Police Officers Pension Fund v, City of Atlanta, et al.:  A lawsuit filed by the boards of the Atlanta General Employees' Pension Fund and Atlanta Police Officers' Pension Fund regarding the city's December ordinance to consolidate the city's three pension fund boards. Plaintiffs’ voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice on July 23, 2018.

•           Cochran v. city of Atlanta.:  A lawsuit filed by a former Fire Chief alleging that he was deprived of various constitutional rights involving the City’s pre-clearance rules for outside employment. The Court granted the City’s Motion for Summary Judgment on all claims, except for prior restraint and unbridled discretion. The parties participated in mediation on October 5, 2018, but were unable to resolve the matter. The case will be scheduled for trial to determine damages, if any, owed to the Plaintiff.

•           Atlanta Local Government Seminar: The Law Department developed and presented, along with the City of Atlanta Ethics Office, its sixth annual seminar on local government law for Atlanta City Council members, attorneys, City staff, and members of our sister agencies.  Presenters from the Law Department educated attendees on subjects including the open records act, public private partnerships, clean cities/sustainability, pending state legislation, construction, employment law, public finance and procurement. The seminar was approved by the State Bar of Georgia for 6 hours of Continuing Legal Education credit, including one Ethics hour and one Professionalism hour.  The seminar was provided at a cost of approximately seventy-eight dollars ($78) per attorney, compared to a cost of one hundred seventy-five dollars ($175) per attorney for a comparable local government seminar.  The in-house seminar provides half of each attorney’s CLE requirements at a savings to the City of approximately five thousand, three hundred thirty-five dollars ($5,335) annually for the Law Department.  Similar 50% savings are achieved for additional attorneys at the City who attend the seminar, including City Council members, City Staff and members of our sister agencies.   

•           Open Records and Open Meetings Training: The Department of Law conducted numerous training sessions regarding compliance with the requirements of the Georgia Open Records Act and Georgia Open Meetings Act. City entities receiving the training include: the Department of Public works; the Mayor’s Cabinet; the City Auditor’s Office; the Department of Aviation; and the Department of Finance..
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