The CEO of the Development Authority of Fulton County is retiring after six years in the often controversial job of helping to grant tax abatements to real estate projects.

Al Nash has served as CEO since 2014 and will remain in the position during a hiring process expected to begin within the next month. He may also continue to advise the DAFC.

Al Nash, CEO of the Development Authority of Fulton County.

In a press release, Nash cited the DAFC’s work on deals with such major corporate tenants as Microsoft, Google and Amazon.

“While not always recognized for its accomplishments, DAFC is a catalyst for much needed infrastructure improvements, more affordable housing, higher quality jobs and additional tax revenue across Fulton County,” Nash said in the press release.

Nash’s tenure coincided with renewed controversy about the DAFC’s granting of tax breaks to projects in hot real estate markets and the effects on public schools and local governments. For years, the DAFC has been at the center of debate about where tax abatements are appropriate and what authority should cut bond-issuance deals that enable them. In the latest round of battle, the Atlanta City Council earlier this month passed a resolution telling the DAFC not to cut tax-break deals within city limits; Nash said such deals would continue.

Political pressure in recent years included Meria Carstarphen, then the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent and a prominent tax abatement critic, briefly serving on the DAFC board.

Under Nash’s tenure, the DAFC made some procedural reforms, including the publishing of fact sheets about tax abatement deals and, for the first time, estimates of their monetary value. The DAFC cut some deals that call for affordable housing within developments that got tax breaks — though there is no mechanism for monitoring or enforcing compliance — and continued the less controversial practice of acting as a bond issuer on behalf of such nonprofit developers as schools.

“Al has been a tremendous leader during the past six years bolstering economic development, expanding the tax base and bringing quality jobs to Fulton County,” said DAFC board chairman Robert J. Shaw in the press release. “We’ve all learned from his vast knowledge and experiences as one of the most respected leaders in the Georgia economic development community.”

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John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.