Macon Mall owners seek higher property taxes on themselves

February 3, 2014 

The owners of Macon Mall are asking the state Legislature to authorize a Community Improvement District in their area.

A CID is a band of commercial property owners who vote themselves an extra property tax and use the money for things such as security, roads, landscaping and public transit. They cannot change residential property taxes, just those for commercial property.

There are more than a dozen CIDs in metro Atlanta but none in Macon-Bibb County.

The mall owners have been canvassing neighboring businesses, and “there’s a huge amount of interest in them coming together,” said Arthur Edge, a lobbyist with the firm GeorgiaLink who’s representing mall owners Hull Storey Gibson. He was pitching the idea to a meeting of Macon-Bibb’s state lawmakers Monday.

To create a CID in a given area, a majority of commercial property owners plus owners representing 75 percent of property value must vote to create one.

“I would need to know, what’s the area they’re proposing,” said state Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon. That’s a concern other lawmakers echoed.

“What needs to be improved in that area?” she asked. “Because I think the corridors are fine, I think the medians are fine. But the problem is there are a lot of businesses that have closed from Pio Nono on down, and Presidential Parkway sucked up a lot of that. Are you talking about going all the way down to Presidential Parkway?”

Edge said there is no proposal yet for the exact shape or size of the CID.

It would depend in part on which property owners want to come on board and which don’t.

By law, CID boards have members elected by the area commercial property owners plus at least one chosen by the local government. Then, if the CID board wants to do work on a government-owned property, such as a road widening, the board would need approval from Macon-Bibb County commissioners.

A CID can also be used with public money to attract matching federal grants. Or it can be used for something completely different. Cobb County’s Cumberland CID, for example, plans to spend $131 million over the next 30 years for improvements around the new Braves stadium site.

A draft bill for a Macon Mall-area CID could be drafted as early as this week, but Bibb lawmakers have requested more information from Edge in the meantime.

If the Legislature authorizes a CID, it also needs approval from the Macon-Bibb commission.

Hazardous sites appeals proposed

The owner of a piece of land that’s declared environmentally hazardous would be entitled to a hearing under Senate Bill 333 by state Sen. Ross Tolleson, R-Perry.

Specifically, it would allow any site added to the state’s Hazardous Site Inventory to appeal.

There were some 550 Hazardous Site Inventory sites statewide as of July 2013, according to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

There’s no hearing scheduled yet, but prospects look good. Tolleson is chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee.

Water conservation act

Cities, counties and other water users would have to return 75 percent of the water they use to the sources they took it from, under a bipartisan bill by state Rep. Johnnie Caldwell Jr., R-Thomaston, and co-signed by several neighboring lawmakers.

What they also neighbor is the Flint River, which has hit low-flow points lately that make kayaking impossible.

Metro Atlanta gets a lot of the blame for a low upper Flint.

House Bill 864 also requires those with water withdrawal permits to report how much they take and give back. No hearing has yet been scheduled.

-- Maggie Lee

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