City commission renews BSD assessment district
By Grace Lovins
The Birmingham Shopping District’s (BSD) assessment district has officially been renewed following unanimous approval by the city commission on Monday, October 24, extending the district’s primary revenue source for another four years.
The BSD’s assessment district has been in effect since 1993, according to assistant city manager Jana Ecker, and is currently in its final year of the last four-year assessment renewal period, leaving the BSD board to return to the commission to request another four-year renewal. The assessment only applies to commercial properties in Districts 1 and 1A of the BSD.
Ecker noted that the assessment will increase for the next renewal period – which hasn’t happened since 2008 for first floor properties of the district, and 2019 for second floor properties. A $.59 per square foot increase for the first floor of all commercial buildings and a $.42 increase for all other floors in District 1 will boost the district’s new annual revenue to just over $1 million.
Ecker explained that the BSD was designed to attract people to the downtown area, and works to promote an active, attractive and pedestrian-oriented district within the city. On top of attracting people to the area, the BSD provides resources to businesses in the district, including marketing and promotions through websites, TV and social media, merchant meetings, and monthly newsletters. Funds from the BSD also allow the board to provide hanging planters and planter boxes, holiday lighting in downtown, events, sidewalk and window washing, plus clearing of sidewalks in winter.
Following public comment on the renewal of the assessment, Amy Pohlod, who was re-appointed to the BSD’s board earlier in the meeting and now serves as chairperson of the board, noted that the assessment increase comes from cost increases and new layout for certain services like snow removal on sidewalks and hanging floral baskets.
“As I look at it, for my 7,015 square foot building, my property assessment is going to go up a couple hundred dollars and I really feel that I get that couple hundred dollars,” Pohlod said. “If we didn’t have [snow removal] people aren’t coming into town. If we don’t have all those flowers, people aren’t coming into town. If we don’t keep a clean city, people aren’t coming into town.”
She also stated to the commission and public that the BSD board encourages business owners in the district to attend meetings and provide suggestions on how the BSD can better the services that are provided and provide feedback on what they feel has worked for their businesses.
The commission voted 7-0 to approve the renewal of the BSD’s assessment district, and will meet again on Monday, November 14, to conduct the confirmation of the assessment roll.