According to the Downtown Asheville Business Improvement District Formation Report produced by the City of Asheville, the BID is:
…a self-imposed way for downtown business and property owners to fund enhanced services or improvement projects within the district, using revenues generated by an assessment on real and personal property valuations in the district. A district will build on the city’s long tradition of investing in downtown.
Revenues created by the BID would be used for services and improvements over and above the level of municipal services we already receive. Existing services would be enhanced, not replaced. In addition, North Carolina law requires that BID revenues be used only for services provided in the district. Attachment A shows the proposed boundary of the district. The BID is a practical way to meet increased service demand as the revitalization continues Downtown, without relying solely on general city funds that are already stretched.
Ashvegas has already shared the differing opinions of Firestorm Cafe, an anarchist, worker-owned cafe; Asheville Grown, the business alliance supporting independent business in Asheville; and the Asheville Downtown Association.
Here’s a roundup of their opinions, plus a new one from PARC, a local liberal politcal PAC headed by downtown homeowners.
We would like to see the BID accepted for the initial trial period of 3 years with a clear set of goals and stringent public accountability in addition to assessing performance indicators across all sectors of our downtown community. We also would like to see the city’s baseline services be ensured and publicly monitored. Lastly, in contracting services out, we would strongly encourage the BID hire locally and utilize primarily locally owned independent businesses. Comments welcome.
The proposed Asheville Business Improvement District is a misappropriation of public funds for private gain. In addition to a 7 cent tax increase within its jurisdiction, the BID’s starting budget will require over $300k in city and county money plus $130k in expected sales tax revenue distributed by the county after its first year of operation. This is a redistribution of wealth into downtown from parts of our community that are already underfunded and underserved. Further, as tax increases are passed on to renters, we can be sure that the cost to downtown will be squeezed from its tenants and small businesses owners, not the landlords who dominate the BID.
The biggest problem with the proposed Business Improvement District (BID) is that an unelected board would collect tax money and spend it as they wish.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is.
It’s modeled on the much-criticised Convention and Visitors Bureau, which collects the hotel room tax and spends it on peeling signs and direct payments to zipline companies and nightclubs.
• A BID will provide a central management system for downtown ensuring communication between business and property owners, city council and staff, and county commission and staff.
• A study commissioned by the Downtown Commission and Asheville Downtown Association projects a 2% increase in property values and a 5% increase in retail sales beyond what the market would offer in the BIDʼs first year.
It’s a split decision. Where does your opinion fall?
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