Forsyth County—The day after a public hearing in Forsyth, the state House unanimously voted to allow the creation of the South Forsyth Community Improvement District, or CID.
The creation would allow businesses to levy taxes on themselves to raise funds toward making beneficial improvements to the area, specifically, adding a McGinnis Ferry exit to Ga. 400.
Nearly 30 people attended Thursday’s public hearing, hosted by Forsyth legislators District 25 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon and District 24 state Rep. Mark Hamilton. Forsyth’s senators, Jack Murphy from district 27 and Steve Gooch from District 51 were also in attendance.
While residents and nearby property owners were concerned about the already high-traffic area, the idea appeared to be well received.
Matthew Broms, owner of software development company Renewed Vision, was the only attendee Thursday that owned a business in the proposed CID. While the map of which businesses would be included hasn’t been discussed yet, preliminary lines show Broms’ company would be at the heart of the district.
With the plan for a CID still in the early stages, Broms said he’s “cautiously optimistic.”
“If it’s done right and done fairly with the levy, I certainly think it could be good,” he said. “Forsyth needs a lot of commercial development ... but we need to be cautious about the high density. We want to be very careful to preserve the beauty of the county.”
Broms, and residents from Smart Growth Forsyth County, were concerned about Taubman, the mall project that’s been in the works for the area for several years. The project has received incentives to come to the county, and they were concerned this would be one more. But with the mall projected to be in the CID map, Taubman would be contributing toward the tax.
Dudgeon, who authored the bill, explained the timeline of events, starting with needing approval from the Senate and governor, before the CID can even begin.
If approved, the Forsyth County commissioners would create boundary lines and a map for the proposed CID, which would then be certified by the tax commissioner. Then, a CID leadership team would be organized, with three leaders selected by the majority of property owners, three from the majority of equity holders and one appointed by county commissioners. Dudgeon said property owners within the map would have to vote to approve the CID before any action could be taken.
From there, the CID would be in the driver’s seat, determining what the millage rate would befor the businesses, handling bonding and organizing a list of improvement projects theself-imposed tax would fund. The tax would be capped at 5 mills, as per the legislation. Based on proposed maps, each mill would generate about $1 million per year.
“The very important point is the only people paying this millage rate are commercial-zoned business properties,” Dudgeon said. “If you’re residential, agricultural, you do not pay the millage rate. Only the businesses in this area will be assessed the supplemental millage rate.”
The CID would have bonding authority, which means it could take out bonds in advance of taxation to contribute to the McGinnis Ferry interchange early on in the process. Hamilton, who has been handling the transportation side of the measure, said the interchange would cost about $40 million to construct. The CID would only be paying a portion of that — probably about $11 million.
With the high volume of traffic on the road, concerned residents proposed widening McGinnis Ferry either before or at the same time the interchange is constructed. But Hamilton pointed out that project is not a priority for the DOT. The concern was the increased development the CID could bring would furthercongest the highway.