Marc Hunt announces support for BID, but wants city to appoint board

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.


SHARE

0 thoughts on “Marc Hunt announces support for BID, but wants city to appoint board

  1. Root!

    “. . .enhancements to Downtown that would occur under a BID would yield greater economic vibrancy and growth. . .”

    By economic vibrancy and growth do you mean more large corporations and chain stores coming in? The only businesses that can afford the tax hike are ones that aren’t local and cater to tourists and the wealther class.

    “The additional financial investment by downtown property owners is thus justified.”

    It’s okay to tax locals to serve the economically privileged that’ll remain in downtown as property value increases and tax hikes destroy local business?

    “Owners bearing the tax burden will ultimately be made more than whole.”

    Can you be sure? What about the workers and tenants to whom the burden will be given to as overhead raises?

    “I view the BID tax as more progressive. . .”

    It’s progressive to economic privilege downtown by ensuring (such as the BID does) that services will be cut from BID before already underfunded outlying areas?

    “There is a more direct and proportional link between payers and beneficiaries.”

    There is an even more direct and proportional link between strong communities in which people look out for each other and take care of each other. Much of the positives of BID (the only one really is that it’ll creater a cleaner space) can be done through citizen-based community organizations. Why don’t you push for that instead?

    “. . .much of the funding of the BID tax would ultimately sourced from outside the City. . .”

    Only for the tourist shops, not the truly local businesses.

    “. . .so much of the infrastructure and services that the City of Asheville provides is to support visitors that come in from outside the City. . .”

    True. You should change that and support the locals instead of tourists.

    “. . .where Council appoints all BID board members according to representation from specific stakeholder groups. . .”

    Why don’t you make it more democratic and let the people vote? Why don’t you appoint the BID based on actual demographics of Asheville instead of who owns the property?

    “The BID structure may not be perfect. . .”

    Not at all. We need community based solutions if we want a true local economy and not a quasi-private sham that favors the economic elite of Asheville.

    “. . .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.”

    Don’t forget that BID draws from the same Buncombe County pot as teachers and firefighters. Guess whose services are going to be cut first: the economically privileged or the teachers and fighterfighters?

    “Some of those concerns can be adapted as the BID gets underway and establishes direction.”

    What about in the meantime before these concerns are adapted? Why don’t we just promote true community based solutions and do away with BID altogether?

    “. . .a downtown Asheville BID will prove effective and ultimately popular, and that is why I plan to support it.”

    Effective to what ends? Popular to whom?

    • michael mac

      Root,
      your armchair potshots are counterproductive.
      On one hand, you call downtown interests “economically privileged”, then you fear that another hundred dollars a year in taxes will destroy locals. They are the same, so which is it?.
      The BID is a community-based solution, as it is being proposed by the downtown community, as a way to raise funds from the downtown community, to address downtown community needs. It is not being proposed by Council, they are only going to endorse or not, and if they endorse, then they need to work out details.
      And, how the heck do you have a vote? Just downtown property owners, business tenants?, (who will be taxed), or employees, or patrons, or the whole county?
      Easy to poke holes, harder to offer sound and specific alternatives.

  2. Root!

    Michael Mac, thanks for sharing your perspective, although you used loaded language such as “armchair potshots” and called me counterproductive.

    I disagree with your premise. Not all downtown locals are economically privileged. For instance, some are working class immigrants who work in the back of restaurants. You can’t whitewash the demographics of Asheville, and this BID will be controlled by a very specific board of property owners. The workers are often the first cut when a business faces financial hardship.

    If the BID is a community-based solution, it’s not based in my Asheville community. I think by community-based and downtown community you meant to say wealthy property owners. Do you think that the several local business owners downtown who are against the BID will have the choice to opt out of the taxes? What about the crowds who will be dispersed and harassed by the ambassadors?

    It’s really easy to poke holes in BID, because BID is full of holes. You never really addressed any of my points. Did you read the entirety of my post?

    If you want a sound, specific alternative, then go into the streets of your “downtown community” and start meeting people and organzing with them for a cleaner, safer downtown. Sit down at the Pack Memorial Library with all of the businesses on your block and form a truly community-based organizing to deal with your problems instead of imposing a tax on the rest of downtown.

Leave a Reply