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.