The Downtown Business Improvement District was approved Monday by an almost three-to-one margin, and will continue for another five years.
The BID includes the State Street business corridor and the area around Capitol Square. Property owners are assessed an extra tax based on how much commercial frontage they own - residential properties are exempt. The tax brings in about $250,000 a year and is used to pay for landscaping, Christmas lights, the downtown visitor's map, marketing, advocacy and the salaries of downtown ambassadors.
The Downtown Business Improvement District was formed in 1999, and members must vote every five years to decide whether it will continue to exist. The votes are similarly weighed by how much frontage each property has. The yes voters carried the day with their 10,653.86 feet of lineal property frontage to the no voters' 3,781.94.
Of the 220 voting parcels, 162 cast votes, says Mary Carbine, BID executive director. The ballots were counted in the City Clerk's office in about two hours.
"I felt we had really done our best to provide value for the district. So I was really glad to see that affirmed," Carbine says. "I didn't go into it with expectations one way or the other.
"We appreciate the commitment of everyone in the district," she says, "and are very pleased at the high level of participation in this vote."
Some property owners had campaigned against the BID this year, but their efforts had little effect. The BID was approved by an even larger margin than it was in 2004 -- about 74% this year to about 60% in '04.
Harold Langhammer, who owns several properties in the BID, has objected to the way the tax is assessed. Langhammer has advocated for the tax to be based on each property's assessed value.
Carbine says a special committee will be formed to look at this issue.