Business Improvement District

Introduction

The City of Stevens Point, along with the Stevens Point Alliance, Inc., is proposing the creation and management of the "Downtown Point Business Improvement District" (BID). BIDs have been a critical part of economic development and business development in business districts, such as downtowns, since 1984 when Wisconsin Act 184 was signed into law. Communities throughout Wisconsin, such as the Wausau River District, have embraced BIDs as a way to make their business districts more viable and vibrant through marketing, promotions, events, and maintenance of the designated BID area.

What is a Business Improvement District?

A Business Improvement District (known simply as a BID) is a boundary of a commercial and/or industrial area established with recommendation of the BID Planning Committee. This area, governed by a BID Board of Directors, is able to levy additional property tax on the properties within the boundary to help promote, market, and maintain the BID area. Typically, BIDs are established in downtown areas and neighborhood commercial districts in an attempt to further economic activity of those areas.

Where did the idea of the BID for downtown Stevens Point come from?

Earlier this year, the Stevens Point Alliance asked for the City to contribute $40,000 to the operations and event management of the existing downtown area. Unfortunately, this request came late in the budget process and the City did not have the funds to contribute as requested. Community Development staff, knowing the successes of BIDs throughout Wisconsin, presented the idea to the Stevens Point Alliance Executive Board. From there, staff has worked with the Stevens Point Alliance to create a draft BID plan.

How does a BID work?

Let's say you own a historical building on Main Street in Stevens Point. Your building is well-maintained and the City has assessed your property at $200,000. Every year, you pay about $4,976.00 in property taxes (this includes the City, County, School District, and Technical College property tax levy). When a BID is established, the BID Board is able to levy additional money on your property for the purposes described above. For example, if the BID were to levy $1.00 per $1,000 for BID purposes, your property taxes would increase by $200. In return, the BID provides the following (for example):

  • Promotes Downtown Stevens Point through marketing and promotions
  • Manages events located downtown (holiday parade, corn on the curb, concerts, wine walk, etc.)
  • Installs and maintains wayfinding signage and new downtown lighting
  • Hires a private contractor to remove snow, maintain grass and flower beds
  • Encourages reinvestment, business recruitment, and business retention within the District
  • Provides financial assistance to property owners to fix and update the exterior of their properties

Several BIDs in Wisconsin hire part-time or full-time BID managers to assist with the above examples.

Money that is levied for the purposes of the BID MUST be utilized in the BID. The City would be the "caretaker" of the funds and would assist in the management and disbursement of those funds consistent with the BID Board of Director’s directive.

How do we establish a BID?

  1. The first step in establishing a BID is to form a BID Planning Committee. This committee should be made up of all commercial property owners or their representatives within the proposed BID, an elected official, and a representative from the City’s Community Development Department. This group should be the most outspoken advocates for the creation of the BID and will serve as the advisory board in the drafting of the operating plan for the BID.
  2. Create an operating plan with clear goals and objectives as they relate to the City’s Targeted Area Master Plan, Comprehensive Plan, and others. The operating plan will also address possible BID boundaries, work with the Community Development Department - Assessing Division, and identify proposed expenditures.
  3. Once steps 1 and 2 are completed, the BID Planning Committee petitions the City for permission to create the BID.
  4. As soon as the petition is submitted, the City will make a notice of the BID to the impacted property owners and schedule a ‘Class 2’ Public Notice consistent with Wis. Stats. §985.07(2).
  5. The City Plan Commission will hold the public hearing consistent with the notice provided. At this meeting, the Plan Commission may choose to consider the operating plan submitted by the BID Planning Committee. Once the Plan Commission has held the public hearing, a 30-day waiting period is established. During this time, the BID could be rejected if:

    1. Petition is signed by owners of properties representing more than 40% of the value of property to be assessed using the same method of valuation specified in the initial operating plan
    2. Petition is signed by owners representing more than 40% of the value of property to be assessed in the proposed BID
  6. The City Council votes to Adopt or Reject the operating plan of the proposed BID. If adopted, the Mayor appoints, with City Council confirmation, BID Board Members. The Levy imposed by the BID Board Members then goes into effect the following year.

Where has this worked in the past?

Some examples: the City of Wausau’s River District/Downtown BID, City of Eau Claire’s Water Street BID, City of Green Bay On Broadway BID, and the City of Milwaukee Historic Third Ward BID. More successful examples can be found on the UW-Extension website.

I represent a property that is property-tax exempt, how does this impact me?

In short, BIDs can’t levy any property tax on property-tax exempt properties. You are, however, a recipient of the benefits of being within the BID.

What’s the proposed boundary of the BID?

The City and the Stevens Point Alliance have put together a proposed boundary, seen here:

BID Boundary Opens in new window

I have more questions, whom do I call?

You can contact Ryan Kernosky, Director of Community Development for the City of Stevens Point at 715-346-1567 or email him at rkernosky@stevenspoint.com.