Board member Rube McMullan, who owns 40 acres of undeveloped commercial property inside the CID, said the group of volunteer board members needs an outsider with more time and expertise to help identify the right projects to pursue.
“We’re stuck in the mud until we can hire somebody to get us going,” McMullan said.
The CID board meets once monthly to discuss opportunities for growth and revitalization within its boundaries, but members said the administrative assistant they hire will work in between those meetings.
A CID is formed when the majority of the commercial property owners in an area agree to tax themselves at a higher rate, up to 5 additional mills. Those tax dollars are leveraged to secure larger state and federal sums, which in turn are used to pay for area infrastructure improvements.
The CID will receive its tax revenue from property owners in November, said board member Tom Flanigan, who is a senior vice president at Clarion Partners, an asset investment company based in Houston. That’s when it can begin paying a consultant.
The CID, which was approved by the City Council in May, includes 53 commercial properties in a 0.84 square mile area along Franklin Road.
Boyd Johnson, vice-chairman of the board, said hiring a consultant will be one the first actions the board takes. At its July meeting, the board voted 7-0 to hire Lynn Rainey as its lawyer, and it voted 7-0 to set its millage rate to 5 mills, which brings in $200,000 annually for the CID.
The board will choose the consultant at its September meeting.
“What’s critical is to get the right consulting firm early on,” Johnson said.
Flanigan said he will ask three local consulting firms to send in proposals for the types of services they could offer the CID.
“They’ll send us a proposal as far as providing the administrative help we need, and then I’ll bring it back to the board at the next meeting. Once everyone looks at the summary of the proposals, we’ll pick one,” Flanigan said.
Although Flanigan wouldn’t disclose the names of the firms, he did say the board would not hire a city government employee for the position.
One regular attendee of the meetings who is not a city employee is political consultant Heath Garrett, an early advocate of the CID’s creation.
Flanigan said an assistant will be responsible for managing the CID’s budget, hiring outside consultants and drafting documents for the group, such as agreements, proposals or meeting agendas.
Johnson said the next step after hiring a consultant is to create a master plan for the area tohighlight certain projects the board wants to complete to revitalize Franklin Road.
“We need a master plan, but right now, we’ve got a lot of learning about the area to do,” Johnson said.
Although the board won’t take any action in the immediate future, Flanigan said he sees potential for Franklin Road as a new mixed-use development to include restaurants, shopping and office space.
“With the land we have here, I see it as good for what they’re calling mixed use,” Flanigan said. “But the experts we hire will guide us more on that.”