A failed BID

Voluntary tax district didn't meet property owners' expectations

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Supporters of Augusta’s downtown Business Improvement District haven’t given up on it yet. But it appears many businesses have.

The BID, created in 2007 to provide extra cleaning and a sense of safety from the river to Greene and 13th to 6th streets, is up for a renewal vote at the Augusta Commission next Tuesday.

That is, if enough property owners even want it renewed.

That was not the case as of midweek. Margaret Woodard, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, acknowledged early in the week that the BID was about 20 votes short of passage. Renewal requires support from 51 percent of property owners in the district, or from owners of at least 51 percent of the properties’ assessed value.

For the record, the company that owns The Chronicle supported the BID’s creation five years ago, but will not support its renewal.

We feel, as do many property owners in the district, that the difference has not been dramatic enough; that the infrastructure condition is the same or worse off than before; and that the $350,000 in BID assessments only duplicate what property tax monies are paid to the city to provide.

At this point, the program must be considered a failed experiment.

Moreover, it was a much different world in 2007. Since the financial crash of 2008, and the long slog since, a lot of businesses simply don’t have the money for what amounts to a luxury.

We’re simply going to have to put the arm on the city to step up and provide the basic services it’s supposed to.

Perhaps nowhere is this more vital than in the downtown area, the heart of the city. As one BID member noted to us, get the heart healthier and the limbs become healthier too.

The Business Improvement District was essentially a voluntary tax among property owners downtown. The sentiment now seems to be that it’s too much to pay for too little in return.

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Riverman1
82399
Points
Riverman1 12/13/12 - 08:05 am
7
0
Clean Up Ourselves

I had the enlightening experience of living in foreign countries for several years when I was in the Army. I noticed in many places businesses and in some cases homeowners took responsibilityfor the public area, sidewalks and even street in front of their business or property. They would scrub the sidewalks and streets themselves. Maybe in these times of economic realities finally hitting, it's time to roll our sleeves up and clean-up ourselves.

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 12/13/12 - 08:52 am
6
1
Doesn't matter...
Unpublished

They will just do to you what they have doing to South Augusta since consolidation. Find some way to tax it out of you. Maybe a bum tax....or a entertainment tax...oh I know...a Cal Ripken might be coming to Augusta tax!

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/13/12 - 09:58 am
5
1
Most small businesses on

Most small businesses on broad already sweep in front of their store already

Lori Davis
905
Points
Lori Davis 12/13/12 - 10:41 am
6
0
Right On!

So glad to see that the AC is not supporting the renewal of BID. The one thing that people need to know more than anything else is that the management plan that the Commissioners voted to support 5 years ago, NEVER was implemented. The DDA lied outright to the Commissioners. The number one selling point for this BID was PUBLIC SAFETY with trained officers. This never happened. What is sad to me is that I spoke with a downtown property owner yesterday who has 12 votes. He stated to me,"Management plans mean nothing. I don't care about a management plan. I just don't want this BID to go away." Someone this unreasonable is getting something else for his BID tax. As a matter of fact, when the 51% comes about through the votes of the folks who own the most property the whole thing begins to stink. Then you throw in the fact that these same folks are the members of the CADI /BOD....Need I say more. Get rid of this slush fund ASAP.

Bulldog
1319
Points
Bulldog 12/13/12 - 10:44 am
9
0
BID needs to disappear

The AC has it partly correct. The BID needs to disappear, but in addition, the entire DDA needs to be done away with! The DDA has been grossly mismanaged and some on its BOD have used its power to cut themselves some sweetheart deals. Augusta is widely recognised as a uniquely corrupt area and the DDA has been adding fuel to that fire for years! Clean house and start over now!

Lori Davis
905
Points
Lori Davis 12/13/12 - 11:00 am
8
0
Agree with previous commenter....

Agree with Bulldog. I don't know how these folks sleep at night. What a wonderful city Augusta could be if only corporate greed were eliminated. The next step is defunding the DDA. In the meantime, return the clock to downtown!!

dichotomy
32121
Points
dichotomy 12/13/12 - 11:30 am
5
0
The BID is BAD. Just another

The BID is BAD. Just another in the long lists of "special" taxes to get things done that we ALREADY pay for in our regular property tax. They whole concept of imposing EXTRA taxes for pay for basic services we already pay for is simply CRAZY.

Local Option Sales TAX (LOST..an appropriate acronymn), TWO, not one but TWO Special Local Option Sales Taxes (SPLOSTs - Surely LOST), and Transportation Special Local Option Sales TAX (You know, the one they want to do the things the GAS TAX and Vehicle Ad Valorem TAX are supposed to do).

Now, follow all of that MONEY and see how much of it ends up benefitting a VERY FEW powerful people. How much goes to PRIVATE organizations who loot and waste the money. And how much ends up in WAY overpriced, bloated contracts to companies OWNED by, you guessed it, powerful, connected people.

Not just the BID, but ALL of these additional taxes need to DIE. We should hold our local government's feet to the fire to DO THEIR JOB with what we give them and make them justify every PENNY of increases in our regular property tax.........if they ever get a LEGAL property tax system.....which you ain't heard anything else about lately. Why? Because SOMEBODY, somewhere is in a back room downtown somewhere frantically trying to figure out how to implement a LEGAL property tax system that will still force RURAL taxpayers to subsidize DOWNTOWN without having to provide equal services. Kind of like the RAIN TAX where the RURAL people with ditches WILL PAY TO REPLACE THE CRUMBLING STORMWATER PIPES DOWNTOWN.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/13/12 - 12:42 pm
6
1
here's hoping the

here's hoping the commissioners don't propose the MOST again. people around here just love voting tax increases on themselves

KSL
126682
Points
KSL 12/13/12 - 07:20 pm
1
1
I agree with the cleaning up

I agree with the cleaning up after ourselves, but not with the ourselves River indicates. People need to quit throwing their trash on the street.

KSL
126682
Points
KSL 12/13/12 - 07:35 pm
1
1
Reminds me of an incident

Reminds me of an incident when I was in the 8th grade. The father of a friend of mine had a business trip to DC. She invited me and a friend from her former hometown.

My father and his law partner arranged for our Congressman to greet us in his office. He showed us around for a while then turned us over to one of his staffers for a day of sightseeing, including some behind the scenes not available to ordinary visitors. I was appalled when the visitor from the former town tossed a candy bar wrapper on the floor of the car. I gave her a look and told her she needed to pick the wrapper up. She did.

Little Lamb
45313
Points
Little Lamb 12/13/12 - 09:16 pm
2
0
Typical Augusta

Before BID, Augusta city government did basic cleanup downtown. The business owners voted to tax themselves extra, and they thought they would continue to get the existing level of city government services plus some new or enhanced services for their new taxes. Wrong. The city just pulled out and CADI sucked up the new tax money. This editorial is well done.

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