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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a Business Improvement District (BID)?

BID's are areas in cities in which the private sector delivers services beyond what the local government can reasonably be expected to provide. The properties and/or businesses within the district pay a special assessment to cover the cost of providing facilities or services for which the district has a particular need. The City collects the assessment fee and distributes it to the district to spend as they see fit.

2. What does a Business Improvement District do?

BID's deliver a range of supplemental services and invest in the long term development of their district. Examples of services include: visitor assistance, organizing special events, holiday decorations, directional street signage, planting trees/flowers, charitable events, commercial vacancy reduction, district public relations, and promotional materials.

3. How are Business Improvement District programs and services paid for?

Funds to pay for BID programs and services are generated from a special assessment paid by the benefited business owners. The assessment is billed and collected by the City and then distributed to the BID, which in turn delivers the districts services.

4. Why form a Business Improvement District?

Reasons to form a BID include: To form promotions and marketing efforts. To pay for projects that would benefit the area. To eliminate the need to solicit from individual business owners every time you want to do something. To collect funds from businesses that receive the benefits of events and promotions, but do not contribute to them.

5. Why not just continue with a voluntary merchants association?

A BID creates a steady and reliable source of funding while a merchants association does not because it relies on voluntary contributions. A merchants association allows for someone to not contribute and still receive the benefits created by the merchants association. A BID obliges everyone to contribute.

6. Will city services be reduced if the Business Improvement District is providing similar services?

No, the services provided by the BID are supplemental to the services provided by the City.

7. Who oversees the Business Improvement District?

A BID is governed by a board which is elected by members of the district.

8. How is a Business Improvement District formed?

BID's require the support of the businesses within the district. A BID will only be created if there is widespread support from businesses that are fully informed about what is entailed. Ballots will be mailed out to all business owners within the proposed district. The minimum requirement to establish a BID is approval from business owners totaling 50 percent or more of the assessments proposed to be levied. However a higher threshold for approval may be created.

9. What's the difference between a Property Based and a Business Based Business Improvement District?

Business Based BID's allow assessments to be charged to business owners engaged in any type of business. Fees may be attached to the business license fee. Property Based BID's allow assessments to be levied upon property owners, defined as any person shown as the owner of the land. Fees may be attached to property taxes and collected by the County and redistributed to the City.

10. What are the benefits of a Business Improvement District?

BID's find innovative solutions to problems. They initiate services not provided by the City. They advocate on behalf of downtown businesses allowing them to communicate a unified message that presses local government on issues that would aid the district. They create cooperation among competitive businesses which allows them to engage in activities they would not be able to do on their own. They generate financing for improvements for more attractive streetscapes i.e.) downtown lighting.

11. What are the disadvantages of a Business Improvement District?

Merchants may be compelled to pay for something that they perceive as having no benefit to their business. The fear that the City will divert resources once used in the district to other parts of the City. The fear that the district board will not be held accountable for their actions.

12. What is the City's role?

To initially approve the BID (final approval is given to the merchants). To collect or cause to be collected the assessments. To distribute the assessments to the BID. To assist in creating the BID. To oversee the BID to ensure transparency and accountability. It will be the responsibility of the BID (through an elected board) to determine how the funds are spent.

13. What will the assessments be?

If a BID is formed the assessment structure will be determined after further analysis, but possible ways to determine assessments include: square footage of property, square footage of building, size of street frontage and/or building frontage, a flat fee attached to business license, a flat fee attached to each property, a combination of the above.

14. What will be the size of the Business Improvement District?

If a BID is formed the size of the BID will be determined at a later date with input from the business community. However the BID area needs to be small enough to provide sufficient consistency of need among the businesses located within it in order to engage their support and willingness to vote for the levy and to participate in it once its formed. And the BID must be large enough to generate sufficient revenue to be viable.

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