Law and Public Safety Discusses Business Improvement Districts

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The Law and Public Safety committee met Tuesday to discuss the expansion policy of the Municipal Service District.

Before the meeting, questions had been raised about expansion of the MSD and exclusions to the MSD. At the meeting, staff outlined the language for the benefit of the members of the public who were present.

Hillsborough Street has many crosswalks.

Payton Chung

Hillsborough Street

Regarding expansions, requests may be initiated by the board of directors of the MSDs and later approved by City Council. The policy calls for no “donut holes” in the MSD map and an expansion task force, which will be composed of residential and commercial owners.

Exemptions must come from a resolution by City Council and a public hearing must be held to take into account the opinions of the neighborhood in which the exemption will take place. Even if a property is exempted from the MSD, they must stay within the MSD until the end of that fiscal year. All parties in an MSD must be assessed the MSD tax. Single-family residences will not be excluded.

Seven members from the public spoke at the meeting regarding this issue and comments were wide-ranging.

One said he liked the creation of a task force and the development of the proposed guidelines. Another said there should be a larger emphasis on ‘need’ for inclusion into the MSD and that the notifications regarding the possible inclusion into the MSD should be explicit. Others asked why their block on the street was included while others nearby were excluded.

Hillsborough Street Business Improvement District

City of Raleigh

Hillsborough Street Business Improvement District

When the item was brought back to the table, councilors and city staff had a lengthy discussion about the issues the public had raised. Councilor Baldwin noted they were dealing with two things — the policy itself and the expansion — and she wanted input from the Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation about why certain areas were included.

David Diaz of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance said these districts were created to help revitalize the district and that that revitalization created a need for supplemental services provided by these districts.

City staff explained that the definition of ‘need’ should include the maintenance of revitalized property, and that the expansion was implemented to maintain the same quality of experience on Hillsborough Street when traveling to downtown and Cameron Village.

Councilor Odom said he thought these districts were now about taxes more than anything else.

“It makes me rethink our BID process and what we’re doing here if we’re going into single-family homes,” he added.

Both councilors Baldwin and Maiorano wanted additional information from staff regarding issues that the public had raised. Councilor Baldwin requested a map of the expansion areas complete with property types and boundary lines. Councilor Maiorano requested some information on best practices by other cities who had implemented these districts.

In order for staff to gain that information, councilor Baldwin said the item should be held at the table until February 24. Councilors Maiorano and Odom agreed.

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