Cumberland CID expects to spend $150M on local road improvements
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
September 29, 2012 12:54 AM | 2559 views | 5 5 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Tad Leithead, chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District, expects the CID to leverage $30 million to collect $150 million in state and federal dollars over the next seven years for local road and other infrastructure improvements, including the Windy Hill Road interchange at Interstate 75.

Leithead and Mason Zimmerman, who chairs Cobb’s other CID, the Town Center Area CID, gave their annual presentation to the Cobb Board of Commissioners on Wednesday. Leithead said the Cumberland CID’s 180 commercial property owners have leveraged about $100 million to get about $500 million in state and federal funds for district infrastructure improvements since forming in 1988.

The 5.5-square-mile Cumberland district constitutes 5 percent of the Georgia economy, Leithead said.

Among the improvements the CID has made are the Cumberland Loop, Kennedy Interchange and the ongoing reconstruction of U.S. 41 bridge connecting Fulton and Cobb counties, he said.

During its first year, Cumberland collected about $2.5 million. It expects to collect about $6 million this year.

“Our 180 members are our sole funding source,” Leithead said. “We then leverage those funds against other sources of dollars which are county, state and federal funds, and they are almost exclusively taxpayer dollars that are collected for transportation and infrastructure investment nationally, and we try to collect more than our fair share. I mean, if a road gets built in California using Federal Highway Administration dollars, then Cobb County taxpayers, through their federal taxes, are investing in a road in California or Arkansas or North Dakota or Alaska or wherever. What we try to do is bring as many of those Cobb County taxpayer dollars as possible back to Cobb so that Cobb County taxpayers get a higher return on their investment.”

Leithead said the two CIDs are the largest economic engines in Cobb County. They are also the only two districts in the county this year that saw an increase in property tax assessments.

“We don’t believe that that’s a coincidence,” Leithead said. “We believe that by investing our dollars in our community and leveraging them against county and state dollars and federal dollars that we bring economic development and economic enhancement to our district.”

Leithead said he expects his CID will tackle the Windy Hill Road interchange at I-75 with the anticipated $150 million it intends to bring in over the next seven years in a proposal that would add the capacity for more traffic while at the same time improving the safety of the exit ramps.

The chairman said it was unlikely the Cumberland CID would be contributing a significant amount to the proposed $1.1 billion KSU-Midtown bus program recommended by the county’s alternatives analysis study.

“We’ll continue to monitor it and support it and remain in favor of it, but I don’t see us becoming big-time investors in the project because our dollars just wouldn’t go that far with a project of that magnitude,” Leithead said.

The Town Center CID, which formed in 1997 and has 250 commercial property owners, expects to collect $3 million this year, up from $2.9 million last year.

“Since its inception, Town Center committed almost $30 million of it revenue to advance projects for a total of $100 million in transportation and infrastructure to the Town Center Area CID,” Zimmerman said.

Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee praised both CIDs for their efforts.

“We appreciate everything you’ve done to help just make the quality of life so much better for so many people who have no idea that there’s a bunch of business people that just decided they needed to pay more money and more improvements to make quality of life and the economic engines in this community stronger and better, and we as a board recognize it and appreciate it,” Lee said.
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VFP42
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September 30, 2012
A road "improvement" that increases the throughput of private cars is NOT an improvement. It is a displacement.

The only improvements paid for by public dollars should be public transportation systems.

Transportation systems include vehicles.

Roads do not include vehicles. You, the taxpayer, get the shaft with tax dollars going to roads because YOU are stuck with your own bill for making any use of them.

If you want to use the roads your tax dollars go towards, YOU pay $THOUSANDS per year on a car, gasoline, insurance, tires, etc. When you're the one in the serious crash, your personal cost skyrockets to $TENS OF THOSUANDS or maybe your own fatality.

People think public transportation is expensive and dangerous, but compared to driving a private car, it's infiniely cheaper and safer!!!

anonymous
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September 29, 2012
I agree with Clearly Stated's positive comments; however, it does seem that the heads of these CIDs (not sure how they are chosen, appointed or what have you) have become way too powerful for unelected and unaccountable officials.

How do they remain in "power"? If they were to abuse that power, who holds them in check?

Just curious. I will also say that it sounds as if Tad Leithead is carrying water for the Democrats, talking about "investing" etc. IT's one thing if it's voluntary, but yet another when it becomes a mandatory thing.
anonymous
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September 29, 2012
"The 5.5-square-mile Cumberland district constitutes 5 percent of the Georgia economy, Leithead said."

I wonder if Mr. Leithead call support this claim?

Clearly Stated
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September 29, 2012
CIDs are only a burden on the tax payers who have chosen to tax their commercial properties extra and the benefits are shared by all who are work or live in or near such a district, and/or do business or play there. Nice to see these groups advance both transportation projects and quality of life issues using their own tax money to jump start things and benefit from local, state and federal dollars which were going to be spent on these items somewhere. These efforts have already shown to have a positive economic impact on their districts. Hopefully they will continue being successful so our county can continue to thrive.
TIC
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September 30, 2012
If the CID's limited their lobbying efforts and influence peddling to those issues and projects that only affected them and their taxpayers then there is no problem.

But they don't!!!

They were the ones who were pushing hard for the Cobb County TSPLOST project list which would have saddled Cobb County taxpayers with a $859 million project that benefited only the City of Atlanta and the Cumberland CID.

It was a self serving project that they wanted ALL Cobb taxpayers to pay for.

They used their money and political influence to establish and promote a self serving agenda which would have had little, if any, positive impact on Cobb County as a whole.

It is obvious that they have significant influence over Tim Lee and take advantage of that "inside track" to get their way regardless of how that may affect Cobb taxpayers outside their taxing district.

The proposed BRT project is a perfect example. A very costly project that 70% of Cobb County voters do not support but that they (the CID) will disproportionately benefit from.

They are restricted by their legislation to only fund projects within their district.

Shouldn't the same restyriction should apply to influencing and swaying the expenditure of tax dollars outside their district?

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