Full announcement from Council member Marc Hunt:
I support creation of a BID and would vote that way at Council for these key reasons:
· I believe that Downtown Asheville is a great economic engine for our community in many ways. Additional enhancements to Downtown that would occur under a BID would yield greater economic vibrancy and growth, and that will be critical to attracting and growing great employers and great jobs for our people. The additional financial investment by downtown property owners is thus justified.
· While no completely thorough polling has been conducted of downtown property owners, advocates for the BID cover a wide range of property owners, residents, and business-owners. I believe the BID is sufficiently supported by those who would be paying to warrant its adoption.
· I trust the validity of the economic studies that show that increased taxes for property owners downtown will be more than made up for in increased economic activity and increased property values. Owners bearing the tax burden will ultimately be made more than whole.
· I view the BID tax as more progressive than alternatively levying an additional property tax on property owners citywide to achieve the same goals; there is a more direct and proportional link between payers and beneficiaries.
· Much of the downtown business economy is regional in nature (i.e., with activity and demand flowing in from outside the City limits). Therefore much of the funding of the BID tax would ultimately sourced from outside the City, with those external consumers of goods and services providing the revenues that enable business owners to pay the tax. I view that as better-balanced given that so much of the infrastructure and services that the City of Asheville provides is to support visitors that come in from outside the City, either on a daily basis to work or less occasionally as tourists/visitors.
· I feel strongly that there must be public accountability, and a self-perpetuating board would not ensure that. I would favor and approach where Council appoints all BID board members according to representation from specific stakeholder groups. I would also be open to some appointments coming from the County Commission. We can have a healthy productive process of interviewing and appointing the initial board in which there would be significant Council and community focus on the programmatic aims for the new BID.
· The BID structure may not be perfect and a number of folks have pointed up concerns about various possible shortcomings, from reduction in sales tax proceeds to neighboring local governments to varying benefits for different kinds of stakeholders to concerns about the relative operational emphases the BID might provide. Some of those concerns can be adapted as the BID gets underway and establishes direction. Others are constrained by NC statute, and we have no flexibility as to the varying from them. In fact, NC law gives municipalities (especially the City of Asheville) incredibly few progressive ways to help themselves fiscally and economically, and this is one of them.
On balance, I believe that as has occurred in nearly every other community that has adopted one, a downtown Asheville BID will prove effective and ultimately popular, and that is why I plan to support it.