What is a Special Improvement District?
Special improvement districts are designated zones within which services can be provided above and beyond the level currently offered by local government. Through the mechanism of an independent assessment district, property owners can decide what kind and what level of downtown management services they need and exert direct control over the delivery of the services.
What is a Services Plan?
The Downtown Services Plan outlines the services and activities to be funded by the assessment paid by the property owners in the District. The first Services Plan was approved in 1997 by a majority of owners and outlined the activities funded from 1998-2001. The Special Improvement District has since been renewed every four years from 2002-2005, 2006-2009, 2010-2013 and 2014-2017. The Services Plan must be renewed at the end of each term. Owners may revise the services and increase or decrease the budget to meet changing needs.
Why does downtown need coordinated management and marketing services?
Suburban properties, including office parks and shopping malls are developed, managed and marketed by a single ownership group or management company. By contrast, ownership of downtown buildings and land is divided among 600+ individuals and companies with no coordinated management to advocate their interests, provide common services or promote the downtown product. This situation makes it difficult to accomplish such tasks as providing enhanced safety patrols, training and dispatching greeters, promoting downtown as a destination, and gathering and disseminating pertinent data on downtown’s progress. Such obstacles can easily be overcome by property owners working together and collaborating on initiatives for mutual benefit.
How much will the services cost me?
By state statute, the special improvement district assessment must be apportioned equitably among all property owners within the service delivery area. Seventy-five percent of the cost is based upon the assessed value of your property, and 25% according to its front footage. Front footage, as defined by Ohio Revised Code 1710.01, is all real property located in the District that abuts upon any street, alley, public road, place, boulevard, parkway, park entrance, easement, or other existing public improvement within the District. The formula distributes the burden among large and small properties.
How will I pay the assessment?
District assessments will continue to be collected by the Hamilton County Auditor’s Office. Notification that your assessment is due will appear as part of your semi-annual property tax bill.
Does everyone in the District have to pay the assessment?
If the owners representing 60% of the front footage in the District sign the enclosed petition, then everyone in the District will receive an assessment for their required portion.
What safeguards exist to ensure property owners benefit from the services?
The district is governed by its own board of directors, who own property or represent property owners within the District. Elections are held every four years to coincide with the start of a new Service Plan. The next election takes place in November 2013. Another safeguard is the assessment term of four years. Its renewal is determined by the property owners. State statute also provides a mechanism for the District to be terminated at any time if a majority of property owners believes it is not providing sufficient benefit.