Eisenhower tax district project moving forward

Macon-Bibb County is about to be one step closer to having its first business improvement district.

Mark Stevens, who has spearheaded the effort to turn part of Eisenhower Parkway into a business improvement district, said Wednesday he is scheduled to make a presentation to Macon-Bibb County commissioners June 9 during their regular committee meetings.

Commissioners must approve the plan for the district to proceed.

Stevens, the regional developer for the Hull Property Group which owns Macon Mall, said he has receive the necessary 51 percent of property owners along Eisenhower Parkway to back the plan. Also on June 9, a public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Macon-Bibb Government Center to discuss the business improvement district. The extra tax would only affect commercial property owners, not residential property owners.

“All the petitions have been signed,” Stevens said. “We’re well on our way.”

Stevens said the plan is to add 5 mills to the property taxes of commercial property owners over the next six years, which should generate about $330,000 a year. Right now, the proposed district starts at the Interstate 475 interchange, but the eastern boundary has not been finalized.

Stevens said the plan, which is undergoing revisions, calls for beautification efforts including mowing the interchange grass every 10 days to two weeks, since the state only mows there twice a year. Stevens said talks with the Georgia Department of Transportation already have started.

Before any work begins, Stevens said, a nonprofit that is tentatively being called the Middle Georgia Educational Corridor Business Improvement District will have to be created with its own executive director and board of directors, which will be made up of property owners in the corridor.

Stevens said the name was chosen to reflect the fact that Middle Georgia State College, Central Georgia Technical College and Virginia College are all located close to the corridor and have been supportive of the effort.

If Macon-Bibb commissioners approve the district, the next step would be turning the ordinance in to the Bibb County Tax Commissioner’s Office by June 30 so that the extra millage rate can be added in time for tax bills in the fall.

Stevens said business improvement districts have had a lot of success in other parts of Georgia.

“They really do work,” he said. “It’s going to be very beneficial to Macon-Bibb. ... This is going to make a difference with the way the corridor looks.”

Commissioner Al Tillman, whose district includes the corridor area, said he thinks creating the district is not only necessary but also will promote future business and community improvement districts in other parts of the county.

“I think you’re going to see some major improvements there,” Tillman said. “It’s an area that needs improvement. When businesses see those improvements, it’s going to encourage more business to come back. It will make more people proud of that area. ... You can even expand (the district concept) to other parts of Macon and continue to spur growth.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.