The two entities have already given a combined $75,000 toward the effort, which is part of the expected $500,000 in contributions.
Tad Leithead, who chairs the Cumberland CID, said his board agreed last Sept. 30 to give $50,000 to the nonprofit known as the Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network, which was set up as the “education component” for the 2012 referendum. The Town Center CID board approved a $25,000 contribution last Nov. 30.
CIDs raise money by taxing commercial properties within their district. The Cumberland CID contains 180 commercial properties.
MAVEN “was specifically set up so that entities like us who are not in the ‘vote yes’ business but who are in the education business — appropriately so — can make contributions and be assured that the money will be used for education purposes,” Leithead said.
Voters in the 10-county metro area will vote in July 2012 on whether to pay an extra 1 percent sales tax for 10 years to fund regional transportation projects. The tax is estimated to bring in $7 billion to $8 billion over the 10 years.
MAVEN is chaired by Bob Voyles, CEO of Seven Oaks Company and member of the Perimeter Center Improvement District’s board.
Leithead said MAVEN hopes to raise about $2 million for the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax education efforts.
“The larger CIDs are going to be asked for $250,000, which would elevate our contribution by $200,000,” Leithead told his board on April 28. The requests for more money should come in the next month or two, he said.
As for promoting the TSPLOST, Leithead said a group called Citizens for Transportation Mobility has taken on that charge.
The pro-TSPLOST group is chaired by David Stockert, CEO of Atlanta-based Post Properties, and is made up of business people. Leithead said that group aims to raise about $4 million to promote the TSPLOST vote.
MAVEN and CTM were both created out of a coalition of more than 40 organizations, including all the area Chambers of Commerce, the Regional Business Coalition and the Council for Quality Growth, Leithead said.
Leithead said the CID money will be used for data collection, polling and website creation to list the projects of the 2012 TSPLOST.
He also indicated at his board meeting that it was time for other CIDs to step up to the plate when it came to financial contributions.
“We’re tired of always being out front on this. We’re interested in seeing other CIDs carrying their share of the burden, especially CIDs which are the same size as we are,” he said.
Leithead said there are 13 to 14 CIDs in the region.
The largest CIDs from a revenue standpoint, said Lynn Rainey, the attorney for Cobb’s CIDs, are likely Cumberland, North Fulton, Perimeter, Midtown and Buckhead.
“Those are probably the largest ones. That’s where high-rises are and high commercial values are,” Rainey said.
Leithead said the Regional Roundtable committee responsible for drafting the TSPLOST project list is set to meet on May 25 to pare down $25 billion worth of proposed projects to a list of about $7 billion to $8 billion of the most manageable projects.
The goal is to have the project list approved by September or October to allow time for the public to learn about the list before the July 2012 referendum.
The matter of CIDs contributing their public funds to SPLOST efforts was a controversial one in the county’s March 15, $492 million SPLOST referendum, which passed by fewer than 100 votes.
Cobb’s two CIDs contributed $150,000 to the pro-SPLOST Citizens for Cobb’s Future, which championed the passage of the county SPLOST. Heath Garrett, a paid consultant for the group, maintained that CIDs could contribute to education efforts, although the move was heavily criticized by anti-SPLOST groups.
But Leithead said CIDs are in the business of using their funds to enhance the potential for transportation improvements in the region to reduce traffic and create accessibility for commercial properties.
“That, in a nutshell, is what CIDs do, and it is very clear in the law that the CIDs can distribute information with regard to their district, they can fund projects, and they can educate the public with regard to opportunities for transportation enhancements within their district, so for a CID to invest, you know, whatever amount, $200,000, to potentially create a funding mechanism that could generate as much as $8 billion for the region, that’s really right in the core of what the CIDs are responsible for doing,” he said.