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Posted: July 12, 2014 10:00 p.m.

278 businesses invited to form association

The new Highway 278 Improvement Association Inc. will hold its first meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 16, in the Physician Pavilion Auditorium, 5126 Hospital Drive.

The non-profit group is dedicated to bringing together businesses along U.S. 278 for planning and improvement purposes; a discussion about it was a major portion of the July 7 city council meeting.

Larry Kaiser, the consultant hired to guide the formation of the association and its associated “community improvement district,” said all property owners in the area have been invited by mail, but wanted to get the word out in case some forgot or didn’t get their mail.

The district includes parcels along 278 from Interstate 20’s Exit 90 to the State Road 142 Bypass.

The meeting will include voting for association board member and adoption of bylaws.

To form a CID, 50 percent, plus one, of business owners in an area must agree to join, and those owners must control 75 percent of the assessed property value. Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said the association is close to that number now.

The formation of a CID will allow businesses in the area, with the permission of both the city and the state legislature, to request an increase in their millage rates to concentrate that extra tax revenue on improvements or plans specific to the district.

City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said CID representatives have mentioned a 3 percent to 5 percent increase in taxes.
Kaiser said that figure is speculative, “just discussion items only.”

It will be well into 2015 before any self-imposed taxes become reality.

CIDs have proven successful in the Atlanta metro area, Kaiser said. Their existence has allowed businesses to unite to promote and improve their areas.

Knight said CIDs can also apply for state and federal grants unavailable to cities and towns.

Johnston said all banks along the corridor have expressed interest in the CID, as have businesses in the Kroger complex.

Johnston asked the council to consider giving the CID $25,000 as “seed money” to get the process started. No action was taken on that request.

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