Council moves to dissolve BID

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SANDPOINT — The first step toward dissolving the Business Improvement District is complete after the majority of City Council members voted for a "resolution of intent" to end the organization.

"I think from the response we got on the first survey and the response we got on the workshops ... there is not a lot of interest in the BID and that we should go ahead and terminate the BID," said Councilman Bob Camp.

With an intent to dissolve the BID in place, a public hearing is scheduled during City Council's regular meeting on Sept. 6 for individuals who would like to speak in favor of, or against, the proposed action.

Roger Woodworth of Mindset Matters, the city's independent consultant, who led outreach efforts over the past few months, said the best move for the city and the businesses would be to halt the current BID, or leave the boundaries in place and set the fees to zero.

With the two choices in front of them during Wednesday's meeting, council members ultimately chose to move forward with the latter.

Along with outreach efforts by city officials and Woodworth, Boise State University students developed and administered a survey to obtain feedback from property and business owners within BID boundaries to determine whether there was a desire to keep the district in place or dissolve it.

Out of 471 surveys distributed, 144 were completed and returned to city within the allotted time frame. 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.

Camp, who has spoken out in favor of dissolving the BID since the results of the survey were announced, was the first to make the motion of intent to dissolve. The reason behind his decision, Camp said, is stated on page 10 of Woodworth's final report.

"The simplest way forward is to terminate the current BID," Camp said, quoting the document. "This serves as a forcing function. That is, by halting BID activities, the city saves costs and puts the onus on businesses to either work together to establish a new BID for specific purpose or go without."

Councilwoman Shannon Williamson said she agrees with Camp after weighing the two options. When she was looking the option of setting the fees to zero and keeping the boundaries, she said, she realized some of the problems of the current BID "stem from those arbitrary boundaries."

"I think we have a way forward if businesses are interested in reestablishing the BID," Williamson said. "By kind of doing a total reset, we have an opportunity for interested parties to create a new BID within a zone that is really wanted and appreciated and people are going to participate."

Councilwoman Deb Ruehle, on the other hand, spoke against dissolving the BID after she said several individuals have recently come to her and said they would like to see it stay in place.

"For those people who do want it, they deserve at least one vote in their direction," Ruehle said, as she was the only council member to vote "no" on the resolution of intent to disestablish the BID.

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

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