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 July 1, 1999

BID faces opponents worried about rising property taxes

BOULDER — Businessman Frank Day isn’t one who’s tap-dancing over the Business Improvement District proposed for the downtown area because it hits him in the purse, which he says is being pummeled already.

“I am not supporting it,” says Day, managing partner in the historic Boulderado Hotel, 2115 13th St. “I basically think the tax burden downtown is becoming somewhat overwhelming, and I’m not for any more taxes.”

Day said the Boulderado recently saw “a huge increase” in property taxes courtesy the Boulder County Assessor and that “there’s a limit to how much you can squeeze out” of commercial property owners.

Chief Deputy Assessor Sam Forsyth said the assessor is required by law to reappraise the entire county every two years, and that the entire downtown area saw an increase between 1996 and 1998 that’s reflective of the market.

The Boulderado property’s actual value went up 38 percent from 1998, according to Sid Anderson, general manager. The hotel property most recently was taxed at 29 percent of its actual value, now estimated at $500,000.

The owners are expected to pay $32,500 more in property taxes this year.

“I also feel the city should be performing the services that the BID (proposes to perform),” Day said. “How many layers do you need to manage downtown?”

Taxing district

A BID, authorized by state law, is a taxing district created by voters who own real or personal property in the specific geographic area of the district — except residential property owners or government and non-profit agencies.

It would provide services from marketing to maintenance above and beyond what’s supplied by the city.

But the property owners within the BID boundaries pay for those services. The levy would be decided by a board of directors after the BID is formed.

For downtown Boulder, a levy of about 6.5 mills is recommended based on the assessed value of $84 million that the county uses for the Central Area Improvement District (CAGID), according to Marilyn Haas, executive director of Downtown Boulder Inc. (DBI). DBI is a non-profit organization of downtown businesses.

Benefits everyone’

Haas said the proposed budget would include as much as $616,300 annually raised from a tax on BID property and business owners, but the total budget for the first year could be more than $1.2 million with additional city and DBI funds.

The city has committed to turning over revenues that currently are used for marketing, events and economic development to the BID. To be determined is whether the city is the best provider of services such as downtown maintenance and landscaping.

“There are benefits for everyone here, not just the mall,´ said former DBI Chairman George Karakehian, owner of Art Source International on the Pearl Street Mall. “The whole BID is really a way to enhance and improve multiple services downtown. The mall is now 22 years old. We believe this is what’s necessary to carry us to the next 20 years.”

Even if approved in November this year, however, the district in theory will not be able to collect the tax until January 2001. Attorney John Mehaffy, who is on the board of DBI and on the organization’s BID committee, explains that state statute dictates that a district must be organized by May 1.

Dead year’

Council member Gordon Riggle was “concerned to hear about the dead year” at the May 26 meeting of DBI — enough that he asked City Attorney Joe de Raismes via memo the same day to let him know if there is “anything creative” that could be done regarding the timing.

Council earlier had voted 9-0 in favor of proceeding and was “enthusiastic” about the BID because the downtown area is one of the success stories in Boulder, Riggle said.

Sales tax revenue on the Pearl Street Mall is up by double digits, 14.54 percent from 1998 to 1999, and the CAGID area minus the mall saw a change of 4.28 percent from 1998 to 1999.

Because downtown is already viable and competitive is all the more reason to plan ahead, Riggle said. It would be from a position of strength as opposed to waiting for signs of trouble.

City Attorney de Raismes said from early research it looked as though there would not be much the city could do under “the most liberal reading” of the state law, but that there might be other options such as operating with borrowed funds.

BOULDER — Businessman Frank Day isn’t one who’s tap-dancing over the Business Improvement District proposed for the downtown area because it hits him in the purse, which he says is being pummeled already.

“I am not supporting it,” says Day, managing partner in the historic Boulderado Hotel, 2115 13th St. “I basically think the tax burden downtown is becoming somewhat overwhelming, and I’m not for any more taxes.”

Day said the Boulderado recently saw “a huge increase” in property taxes courtesy the Boulder County Assessor and that “there’s a limit to how…

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