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Rarely Used Economic Development Tool Offers Benefits to Cities

Georgia has two types of business improvement district models: Georgia community improvement districts (CIDs) and Georgia city business improvement districts, or “Georgia BIDs.”

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Map shows the distribution of Georgia BIDs and CIDs. Blue stars = Georgia BIDs; Red stars = CIDs

Like CIDs, Georgia BIDs are a group of property owners within a set boundary who decide to levy additional taxes or fees on themselves to provide supplemental services. However, Georgia BIDs are only created in cities and may offer other potential benefits.

Benefits of Georgia BIDs. Some of the potential benefits of using a Georgia BID include:

  • Ability to tax residential properties;
  • Additional financing mechanisms, such as business licenses and surcharges; and
  • No limit on property tax millage rate.

Georgia BIDs vs CIDs.  Although Georgia BIDs and Georgia CIDs share some similarities, there are far fewer Georgia BIDs than Georgia CIDs.  (See map above.) The table below outlines some of the key differences between Georgia BIDs and Georgia CIDs.

Georgia BID Example.  Columbus, Ga., has a BID that is administered by the nonprofit, Uptown Columbus, Inc. The Columbus BID raises funds through a property tax to provide additional public safety and hospitality services through the Columbus BID Ambassadors. Ambassadors provide directions, information and assistance, as well as provide additional safety through their presence. The Columbus BID also provides cleaning and maintenance services for litter prevention and control, sweeping, and pressure washing streets and sidewalks in the district.[i]

Conclusion. Although less commonly used than some other economic development tools, Georgia BIDs represent another option to assist in revitalizing cities.

— Lindsay Kuhn, CSLF Fellow

Read related blog on Georgia CIDs. →

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[i] Uptown Columbus, 2016. “About,” Uptown Columbus. http://www.uptowncolumbusga.com/plaintext/about/about.aspx

  GA BIDs GA CIDs
Enabling legislation O.C.G.A. § 36-43 Ga. Const. Art. IX, Section VII
Purpose Restoring and promoting commercial and other business activity within such business districts Providing governmental services or facilities
Services

- Advertising

- Promotion

- Business recruitment and development

- Sanitation

- Security

- Design and rehabilitation standards

- Constrained to services outlined in district plan (see “Creation”)

Includes but not limited to:

- Parks and recreational areas

- Street and road construction or maintenance

- Public transportation

- Terminal and parking facilities

- Storm water and

sewage collection/disposal systems

- Water services

- Other

Creation

- District plan detailing planned services, date of dissolution (5-10 years), and other information approved by city

- Petition from majority of district taxpayers by number of properties or property value

- City resolution

- City or county CID enabling act

- Petition from a majority of property owners representing at least 75% of property value

- City or county resolution

Renewal/

Dissolution

- Automatically dissolved after period of years specified in district plan

- Must recreate entire BID to renew (see “Creation” above)

- If specified in local CID enabling act, vote to renew after a certain number of years
Exempt Property - Tax-exempt properties

- Residential properties

- Properties used for agricultural or forestry purposes

- Tax-exempt properties

Financing Mechanisms

- Real and personal property tax (no maximum)

- Surcharges on business licenses and occupation taxes

- Local, regional, state and federal grants and other funding

- Real property tax (up to 25 mills)

- Bond

- Local, regional, state and federal grants and other funding