Marietta to talk CID for Franklin Road
by Nikki Wiley
April 29, 2014 04:00 AM | 5654 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — A third self-taxing community improvement district in Cobb County could go live as early as this summer.

Marietta City Council will discuss a resolution to create the district at its series of committee meetings at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

A final vote is scheduled for May 14.

The district would dovetail with the $68 million redevelopment bond issue voters passed in November. That referendum gave the city the ability to raise property taxes by up to 2 mills to help redevelop the Franklin Road corridor.

The city is purchasing aging apartment complexes with plans to raze them and sell the cleared land to developers. Two Franklin Road complexes totaling $20 million have already been acquired by the city, including the 386-unit, 25.2-acre Woodlands Park complex and the 348-unit, 24.3-acre Flagstone Village Apartments.

Community improvement districts, or CIDs, are formed by area property owners who agree to tax themselves at a higher rate, up to 5 additional mills, using the extra revenues to obtain additional state and federal dollars to pay for infrastructure improvements.

An act of the Georgia General Assembly authorized CIDs to be formed in Georgia. Cobb has two: the Cumberland Community Improvement District whose governing board is chaired by Tad Leithead and the Town Center Area Community Improvement District whose board is chaired by Mason Zimmerman.

A CID would exist beyond the length of the city’s redevelopment bond and could tackle more long-term projects, said Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin.

Tax collections would solely fund needed infrastructure or other community improvements, Tumlin said.

Property taxes collected from the district wouldn’t have to fund public services, such as police and garbage pickup, Tumlin said, and could be used on a more narrow focus.

“All the things they’ll get involved in, whether it’s a bridge … it’s always a joint effort, but they’re a partner that comes to the table with money,” Tumlin said.

Though business owners in the district would be signing up for a tax hike, Tumlin said there is excitement in the business community about the potential for the Franklin Road corridor to take ownership of its future.

“Because they have so much control and it goes to such a concise area, they see it as an investment,” he said.

Fast track timeline sets election in June

A majority of property owners representing 75 percent of the assessed value of the district must agree to the tax increase. Beth Sessoms, city development manager, said conversations are ongoing with Franklin Road property owners and many have already agreed to join the CID.

The CID would just apply to businesses, not residents.

Districts are allowed to operate under seven legal purposes, including funding street and road construction and maintenance; parks and recreational facilities; storm water and sewage collection and disposal; development, storage, treatment, purification and distribution of water; public transportation; terminal and dock facilities and parking areas; and other services approved by the state.

A life of six years is given to each CID and it is automatically inactive after that timeframe unless a majority vote of property owners extends the lifespan.

Marietta’s CID, if approved by City Council, could elect its seven-member board and set its millage rate as early as late June.

“The goal is for that to be on the tax notices that go out this fall,” Sessoms said.

First, the Cobb County Tax Commissioner must issue a Certification of District, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on May 15, if the city approves the resolution. Board member election notices must be advertised for four consecutive weeks before the vote tentatively set for June 30.

“This has fallen into place quicker than we thought it would,” Tumlin said.

CIDs ‘super successful’

Tumlin hopes the city’s CID can follow in the footsteps of its Cobb predecessors, which he called “super successful.”

“This is right in the middle of them,” Tumlin said. “I think this will have the same effect.”

Created in 1988, the Cumberland CID was the first to be formed in Georgia and has completed more than 60 projects, including 32 road projects, with CID funding. By 2018, the Cumberland CID will have committed more than $130 million to infrastructure improvements.

The Cumberland CID has also committed $10 million to funding transportation improvements for the proposed $672 million Atlanta Braves stadium set to open within its boundaries in 2017.

Tumlin credited the Cumberland CID for paving the groundwork for the Braves relocating to Cobb from Turner Field.

“I don’t think the Braves would be doable without the CID,” Tumlin said.

North of Marietta, the Town Center Area Community Improvement District has also spent millions on local projects, spending $26.5 million since its inception in 1997, $21.2 million of which was spent on infrastructure.

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