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Lebanon Business Improvement District authorized

Written by John Latimer/Lebanon Daily News | Nov 24, 2015 9:01 AM
Lebanon_business_improvement_district.jpg

FILE PHOTO (Courtesty Lebanon Daily News)

Decision is now in the hands of property owners in the district.

(Lebanon) -- If at least 60 percent of the property owners support the BID plan, then every commercial property owner in the district will be assessed a fee, equal to 2-mills or a minimum of $250, for the next five years.

That money will raise revenues of about $114,000, about $50,000 of which will be used to hire a downtown manager whose job will be to coordinate services and organize events that will attract more visitors to the area, with an ultimate goal of boosting the local economy and property values.

But before any of that takes effect, property owners must vote on the proposal. Packets of instructions will be sent on Tuesday and property owners will then have 45 days to respond.

Under state law, for the BID proposal to be defeated 40 percent of the zones property owners will have to declare their opposition in writing. Property owners with more than one property will get multiple votes. And a non-response will be counted as a favorable vote.

Although non-profits and owner-occupied residents will not be assessed a fee, they will be eligible to vote, Mayor Sherry Capello said Monday night, clarifying misperceptions that had been previously reported.

"All of the property owners may vote if they want," she said after the meeting. "Even if they don't have to pay an assessment they actually have a vote, because they will benefit from what's being provided."

Establishing a BID has been one of Capello's goals since shortly after taking office in 2010 and was a key recommendation in a five-year economic development strategy the city developed earlier this year.

This summer, with help from a state grant, Capello hired a community development consultant and named a steering committee to develop the parameters of the BID proposal.

On Monday night, she noted that she participated in the steering committee meetings but did not have a vote when it came down to the specifics of the plan or the size of the BID, which, she said, she would have preferred to be larger.

The only member of council on the steering committee was Richard Wertz, whose family-owned candy store on Cumberland Street is in the middle of the BID district.

Before council voted on the BID, Wertz's involvement with the planning was criticized by real estate developer Frank Anthony who has been a vocal critic of the plan

"If you were on the steering committee, wouldn't you agree there's a conflict of interest," he asked.

Wertz replied that he did not see his being part of the BID development as a conflict because City Council has no authority over management of the BID.

"I went in there with an open mind and being objective," he said. "I needed to hear everything that was being said and personally I think it is a good thing."

Should it be approved, oversight of the BID will be the responsibility of a Neighborhood Investment District Management Association that will serve as an advisory committee.

Other criticism of the BID plan came from councilman-elect Cornell Wilson who noted the lack of Hispanic representation on the steering committee.

Capello replied that the steering committee contacted all stakeholders to get the perspective of everyone in the BID area. She also said there is a Hispanic on the NIDMA oversight committee.

While the vote authorizing the BID was unanimous, the level of enthusiasm differed among members.

Councilman Wayne Carey read a prepared statement in favor of the initiative, invoking the city's marketing slogan.

"Tonight, let's join in support of the BID and take another step together to make Lebanon the place to grow," he said.

Councilwoman Pat Royer, who lost her reelection bid to Wilson earlier this month, said she had reservations about the BID but felt the decision should be made by those it impacts.

"I'm voting yes so they can vote," she said.

Wilson, who will be sworn into office in January, also expressed mixed feelings about establishing a BID.

"I personally believe the overall concept is a great concept, and I'm glad she's (Capello) is looking to do this. But I do think there are some unanswered questions and maybe we are rushing things," he said.

In other business Monday night, city council completed the 2016 budget process by voting to approve the $11.8 million spending plan that holds the line on taxes. The vote was a procedural one. Council approved the budget on introduction on Nov. 12.

In other budget related action, council reauthorized the city's tax levies, including re-establishing the earned income tax at 1.4 percent and the millage rate a 4.581.

Council also authorized Capello to arrange for the issuance of a $1 million Tax Revenue Anticipation Note or TRAN, which is a line of credit the city can draw on to pay its bill should it not have enough capital reserves remaining before property and earned income tax revenues are received.

Chairman Wiley Parker compared a TRAN to an insurance policy and noted that the city has issued one the past 6 years but has never had to use it.


This article comes to us through a partnership between Lebanon Daily News and WITF.

Published in Lebanon, News

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