BIDs strengthened in new jobs bill

Downtown revitalization efforts are getting a boost in the Jobs Bill passed last month by the Legislature. The law seeks to increase infrastructure investment, facilitate growth of new and existing businesses, and streamline the permitting process.

Perhaps the most important change the legislation offers is stronger Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). BIDs are special zones in which a common fee is paid by property owners within the area who vote on certain supplemental services beyond those already provided by their local government. Services supported by BIDs may include promotion and marketing, district management, maintenance and security, or physical improvements and property management.

BIDs seek to address the issue of unsustained momentum in downtown revitalization efforts, which are typically pursued by volunteer programs that often fade over the long term due to insufficient funds. Provisions included in BIDs are designed to maintain momentum to revitalization efforts through an ensured revenue source and a professional management entity for the implementation of activities that are seen to increase economic viability in the area.

The jobs bill fixed the state’s BID enabling legislation, which had been viewed as one of the weakest in the nation because it allowed property owners to simply opt out of a BID district. The new law requires all owners to pay the BID assessment once a district has been established. While this is a significant improvement, concern remains that the enhanced BID statue is still weaker than BID laws in other states.

                                                                –Justin Matheus

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