FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted July 11 to approve $120,000 toward an economic development plan run by the chamber of commerce.
The money, drawn from the county 2017 budget, will help the plan get funded through the end of the year. The chamber will return to the county finance committee for funding next year.
Another $54,000 will be used for the project from the hotel/motel tax.
James McCoy, president of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said the plan is a way to create positive impacts on the county, including
Shorter work commutes
Reduced traffic congestion
And a better quality of life for citizens
It also calls for renewed efforts for commercial growth. Nearly 12 years ago the chamber started an economic development department to help reverse the trend of the shrinking commercial portion of the tax digest.
In 2005, the county’s tax digest – taxable property – consisted of 81 percent residential and 19 percent commercial. Ten years later, the commercial portion of the digest rose to 28 percent.
By 2025, McCoy said the plan is to have the commercial portion climb to 40 percent and continue to improve.
Additionally, the focus is to reduce the residential portion of the tax digest from 71 percent to 60 percent by 2025, he said.
The investment is expected to generate an estimated $39 million in new commercial revenues for the county for an estimated 764 percent return.
Local governments depend on some measure of commercial growth to help offset the tax burden levied on homeowners.
Additionally, the residential property tax burden will be reduced by approximately $1.35 billion through 2025.
The county’s investment into economic development has been good, McCoy said. For every $1 of public funds invested in the chamber’s current economic development activities, $358 was added back to the county’s tax digest.
McCoy said the chamber analyzed surrounding counties’ plans, excluding Dawson County which is currently considering defunding its public portion of economic development.
“If you look at our competitors, particularly North Fulton, we are outspent by all of them,” McCoy said. “If you look at them in aggregate and in total, we are outspent 10 to one. There’s a real opportunity for us when we consider the return on investment.”
The group looked at what the plan could look like between now and 2025. He said the determined the cumulative residential tax savings to homeowners in Forsyth County has a marginal savings of $28 million over that period of time, McCoy said.
If the school system is included in that analysis, for every $1 invested in the plan from now to 2025, homeowners would save $16.