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Gov. Deal signs Newton CID law

Forming a community improvement district (CID), an area where business owners can tax themselves for improvements, is legal in Newton County.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed Newton County’s CID legislation into law Tuesday, and with it paved the way for the Hwy. 278 district that has been in the works since 2014.

“It’s officially law,” said Kathy Morgan, Hwy. 278 CID consultant said. “We’re excited about it.

The CID consists of property owners in an area stretching from Ginn Motor Company to Martins Crossing on Hwy. 278. In order to qualify for a CID, the corridor must have consent from at least 50-plus-1 percent of property owners and at least 75 percent of assessed value.

As of Monday, of the 142 qualifying property owners, 61 have given consent. The CID needed 59 to be enacted. Also as of Monday, consent had been given from property owners who have 72.45 percent of assessed value.

“We’re within 2-½ percent of where we need to be,” Morgan said. “There’s 18 percent undecided and 12 percent of those I’m having ongoing dialogue with.”

The tax commissioner certifies the CID requested once the 50-plus-1 percent of property owners and 75 percent of assessed value targets are reached within 60 days. After that, the CID formation board would request a resolution from the Covington City Council to establish the Hwy. 278 CID. There would then be a 60-day period to transition from a formation board to a governing board of the CID.

With all that in the not-too-distant future, the CID formation board directed Morgan to begin establishing a scope of work and expense budget on what will take place along the Hwy. 278 corridor.

“We want cleanup, maintenance, beautification, landscaping — particularly on exit 90 — and maybe two other smaller projects further along the corridor,” Morgan said. “I’ve already met with Covington to see what projects they have going on in the corridor, so that we’re working in tandem and complimentary to each other.”

Gov. Deal’s signature on the bill will make it possible for the CID to accomplish its goals.

Following the signing, Morgan emailed property owners who were still undecided, and saw a change in their attitudes.

“It was surprising to me when I sent out emails, after it passed the House and Senate, to people holding out who were saying ‘let me know when it is passed into law,’ because it makes it real,” Morgan said. “People did not want to commit until it was real.”

Morgan said one property owner walked into her office Tuesday to pick up a consent form and others set up meetings.

“It’s a reality now; it’s not a bunch of people saying this would be a great thing to do for our community,” Morgan said. “I keep telling people, we’re just right there.”