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Why start a Business Improvement District (BID)?

The most basic reason to start a BID is that downtown property and business owners have a higher expectation for public service than is currently being delivered. The only way to guarantee cleanliness and safety is to pay for it ourselves by creating a self-taxing district to fund sanitation and public safety.

Why is the downtown Macon BID so important?

Downtown Macon is at a critical junction, with the loft-housing surge providing the first opportunity in a generation for wholesale revitalization. Our future is limited by the level of service currently being provided by the public for sanitation and public safety. To increase office and storefront occupancy from 70% (where we are now) we need cleaner, more attractive and more inviting public spaces to welcome customers and clients. The BID allows us to find private solutions to public problems by banding together as property owners to solve long-standing challenges to downtown’s success.

How much will it cost?

The proposed BID assessment is five mills. A five-mill assessment costs about $200 in tax for every $100,000 in property value.

Why now?

No one wants to pay more taxes, but everyone wants more services. Now is the time to institute the BID because Macon-Bibb is rolled back five mills of property tax for all former City of Macon property owners. One way to think about this transition is taking control of a portion of taxes you were paying and diverting them so that they can only be spent around your properties.

How long will the BID run?

Initial approval is for a six-year term. Property owners within the district would have to vote to extend the BID for another term after six years.

Who will run the BID?

State law has very specific rules about how the BID would be run. The BID will be administered by a seven-person volunteer board. Five board members are elected in a caucus meeting by the property owners within the district to serve three-year terms, and must be property owners. One more will represent Macon-Bibb County and the final member will represent NewTown Macon. The elected BID board has total discretion over how revenues are spent and on what projects.

What could the revenue from a BID accomplish? How will the revenue be used? How much money could we raise?

BIDs can undertake public space improvements. These can include capital improvements, consumer marketing, economic development, maintenance, parking and transportation projects, policy advocacy, security and social services. It will be up to the elected BID board to develop a budget. NewTown Macon has developed a draft business plan and budget focused on cleanliness and safety with all of the BID resources. You can download this plan at Early estimates predict annual revenue of slightly less than $300,000 for the entire district.

How will the BID benefit me?

Previous studies show that BIDs increase property values. In fact, “on average, the value of commercial property within a BID increases by approximately 15 percentage points more than comparable properties in the same neighborhood but outside the BID.” Another study found that BIDs significantly reduce crime, especially theft and property crime. BIDs have also been shown to increase occupancy rates, public perception, lease rates, retail sales and pedestrian counts.

How common are BIDs?

There are over 400 BIDs functioning in 42 states in the US in cities with a median population of approximately 100,000. Atlanta, Columbus, Rome and Madison all have at least one BID or CID in Georgia. As a validation of success, BIDs are rarely if ever disbanded, showing that property owners realize real value from BID services. All of the cities listed with BIDs or CIDs in Georgia have renewed their districts at least once.

What is the difference between a BID and a CID?

BID, or Business Improvement District, is the most common nomenclature in use in the US, but these districts go by all kinds of names like “self-supported municipal improvement district,” “Special Improvement Districts,” “Special Business Districts,” “Economic Improvement Districts,” and of course “Business Improvement Districts.” Georgia law allows two of these self-taxing districts, BIDs and CIDs, with slightly different legal requirements and uses, but similar purposes.

Can the BID assessment be passed on to tenants?

Yes, it is a tax assessment.  If the lease allows the owner to pass through taxes, then it should be passed through.  I cannot give legal advise, so I would recommend having an attorney review the specific leases to determine if it can be passed through.

When will we receive our first bill for the BID assessment?

If we succeed in completing the campaign on or before July, the payment will be included on the 2017 October/November bill.  It is technically possible for us to finish the campaign too late for it to be billed in October of 2017, and it would then go into effect October of 2018.

How can the BID reduce panhandling and harassment?

NewTown proposes that the BID's expenses focus entirely on making and keeping downtown “clean and safe”. We would employ a group of safety officers and ambassadors to have near 24/7 coverage of downtown to clean and repair street furnishings and fixtures, remove graffiti, maintain and upgrade plantings and landscaping and correct anti-social behavior.  That said, the final business plan is subject to approval by whoever the property owners elect to the board.

What happens to a property owner if they do not sign their pledge card, but the BID is instituted anyway?

Once the necessary approval threshold is met (either 50% of parcel owners or parcel owners controlling 50% of value), then the district is instituted and the BID assessment of five mills is imposed on the entire district, regardless of whether a property owner signed a pledge form during the campaign.

download faq document here