City to take over BID for the interim

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(File photo by MARY MALONE) The city of Sandpoint is taking over interim management of the Business Improvement District until a final decision is made in July. In the meantime, city officials plan to host several workshops for input from those within the BID and the flower baskets are scheduled for delivery May 18.

SANDPOINT — The Sandpoint Business Improvement District will be under interim management by the city until a decision is reached by council whether or not to dissolve it.

The BID has been managed by the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, but while the contract was extended through the end of March, it has now expired.

During Wednesday's City Council meeting, Jennifer Stapleton presented city staff and council with a plan to hold public workshops for business owners within the BID. This will allow council members to have a better idea of whether to dissolve the BID or restructure it. The final decision date is set for July 20 to preclude adoption of the city budget in August.

Between now and July, the only program the BID has on the schedule is the flower baskets. The approximately 100 baskets were ordered last fall and are scheduled to arrive May 18 and will be put up just in time for Lost in the '50s weekend, as they are each year, Stapleton said.

The chamber contracted out watering services for the flower baskets, so council members agreed to seek a renewal of that contract.

"He really did an outstanding job and the baskets were beautiful last year," Stapleton said.

Advertisements the BID was doing, such as ongoing magazine and radio ads, will be discontinued immediately. The approximately $45,000 in the BID account will be transferred to the city as well. 

"In terms of an interim plan, our purpose through this project would be to engage the BID stakeholders in assessing the current situation, taking in the information that we got from the BSU survey and really building on that, identifying alternatives and making a recommendation, ultimately, to council that is representative of the majority of those paying into the BID," Stapleton said.

City officials worked with Boise State University students in the public policy and community and regional planning graduate programs recently to develop and administer a survey to BID members. The students reviewed the structure and organization in the BID, as well as developing the survey to obtain feedback from property and business owners to determine whether there is a desire to keep the BID in place or dissolve it.

Out of 471 surveys distributed, only 144 were completed and returned to city within the allotted time frame. Due to the 31-percent response rate, Stapleton said it was not a statistically significant response. The survey revealed 55 percent of those who responded believe the BID should be dissolved, while 25 percent said it should continue and 20 percent were undecided. But many who expressed the desire to see the BID dissolved, also said a restructuring of the BID may be sufficient. Therefore, restructuring of BID fees, boundaries and more will be topics discussed during upcoming workshops.

Stapleton said staff recommendation is to hire a neutral strategy and leadership consultant with business and economic experience to facilitate public involvement and input.

No dates are set for the workshops, but up to five will be held before July 20.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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