Now that it has decided upon an assessment, the Downtown Business Improvement District Board will seek final approval from the Columbus City Council on Monday, June 5th, 2023, to proceed with plans.
The previously announced assessment that was shared with the public and will be presented to City Council is based on a $200 per $100,000 valuation per county records, with a $750 cap per property. It would net $45,827.26 in year one, but the City of Columbus would also match that amount, to give the board a first-year budget of approximately $91,654.52. Owner-occupied single-family residences would be excluded from the assessment, as would tax-exempt properties such as churches and government-owned properties (businesses that have residential rental units on their second story would still be included).
The Board recapped that assessment during its latest meeting on Monday, May 8th, at City Hall. Present were Board President Josh Johnson, of Columbus Bank and Trust; Kevin Johnson, of Wize Buys, who is also board vice president; Barbara Duffy, of Barbara Jean’s, who is the board secretary; Mary Nyffeler, of Treasures Boutique; Cory Reeder, of Reeder’s; Robert “Bob” Stachura, of Columbus Tire and Service Center; Lindsay Thomson, of Inspired by Soul Photography; and Kristin Stock, of Artzy Haven.
They were joined by Planning and Economic Development Coordinator Jean Van Iperen, City Administrator Tara Vasicek and City Public Communications Manager Matt Lindberg. There were also several members of the public in attendance: Rob and Tracy Gasper, Ginger Willard, Brian and Taryn Kozak, and Katy McNeil.
The group spent the beginning of the meeting reflecting on the April 18th public town hall that took place at the Columbus Innovation Center, sharing their thoughts on how they felt it went. The key takeaways included the public sentiment that Christmas lights were not worth investing in for Frankfort Square, but that continued improvement in communicating the BID’s purpose, where the money comes from and how it's spent are necessary. There was also talk about the public feedback for better overall marketing downtown, including suggestions that the downtown district be entirely rebranded.
The Board earlier this year took public feedback into consideration when determining the Business Improvement District’s boundaries. It previously announced the west boundary as 33rd Avenue; the alleyway between 10th and 11th streets as the south boundary; 23rd Avenue serving as the east boundary; and the alleyway between 14th and 15th streets making the north boundary. On May 8th, they confirmed those boundaries once again with one exception.
Scott and Pat Mueller own multiple properties within the proposed district. At the April town hall, they indicated they were in favor of the BID. They subsequently requested their Evans House building, located just outside the boundaries on 14th Street, be included in the district assessment. During Monday’s meeting, Reeder made a motion to have it included. It was seconded by Stachura and ultimately passed 8-0.
Van Iperen was instructed to send out the necessary notification to property owners as well as to publish the necessary notification in The Columbus Telegram before the June 5th meeting. A postcard will be mailed to all property owners.
Property owners do have a right to express their views at the public hearing, but according to Nebraska Revised Statute 19-4027, the public hearing will only terminate if written protest is made prior to the close of the hearing by the record owners of more than 50 percent of the assessable units in the proposed business improvement district.
If you are unable to attend the public hearing and would like to show your support or opposition, the postcard must be fully completed and received via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, mail or hand delivered to City Hall, Planning & Economic Development, 2424 14th St. by 5 p.m. on Monday, June 5. If mailing your card, please remember to allow the post office enough time to get it delivered prior to the meeting.
Property owners would not be providing a legal vote in favor or against the BID, but would be expressing their stance to City Council members before they vote at the June meeting.
During the May 8th meeting, the Board also unanimously passed a motion to adjust the wording of the BID ordinance allowing for donations from people who support BID projects but are located out of the district.
Board member Dick Tooley, of Tooley’s Drug & Home Care, was not present for the meeting.
The Board will next reconvene at noon on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in the first-floor conference room at City Hall. It is open to the public.