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Community Improvement District proposed in Perry | News

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Community Improvement District proposed in Perry
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Perry officials are looking to boost business.

A proposal that goes before City Council Monday suggests an additional tax to commercial properties along General Courtney Hodges Boulevard to fund community projects.

Economic Development Director, Robert Smith, says to enhance economic growth and improve the look of the city, one option would be to make the area a "Community Improvement District."

"The commercial property owners come together to fund projects in the district," explains Smith.

If approved, it would give an additional property tax to businesses along that street.

The money then goes to improvements in that area, which would decided by the people that work there, not the city.

"It's separate from the city. The city isn't going to be dictating what projects have to be done," he says.

Some of the projects he has heard include parking, security services, or traffic lights.

"It's a good idea to upgrade," says owner of Garlinda's Garden, Erica Dean. "More lights and sidewalks. I would like to see that."

She's had her flower shop there for seven years.

"It is, kind of, not a forgotten area of town, but we are getting a lot more business," says Dean, "and I wouldn't mind the upgrade."

Even though she says they are in need of some changes, she does not think the responsibility falls on their shoulders.

"I don't know why just Courtney Hodges businesses would be taxed, because we are a part of Perry," she says.

129 commercial properties are in the district. It will not pass unless more than half agree to be part of it. Also, out of that simple majority, they must represent at least 75 percent of the taxable value of commercial property in the district.

"I think it's a bad idea, as a business owner," says president of Hoke's Heating and air, Hoke Morrow.

He has been on Courtney Hodges for 13 years. He thinks more taxes would stunt business growth, instead of improving it.

"That's not fair for this area to pay more taxes and this area not. A heating and air person on the other side of town isn't going to have to pay that kind of tax we'll have to pay."

The tax has not been set yet, but it will be done in the form of mills. Smith says it will be less than 5 mills.

These small business owners argue they are already paying enough.

"I like the idea of definitely giving it a good facelift," says Dean. "If it's just us having to pay taxes, I don't think that's fair."

"That's awful painful," Morrow says.

Nothing is set in stone, but Smith says it could be an investment for Perry's future.

"What we hope to have is a more economically viable, more marketable, and more, just, business friendly environment within that district," he says.

Smith also notes that the city is looking to partner with the district to match their funds for certain projects.

There are Community Improvement Districts in Braselton, Valdosta, and Emerson.

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