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Spokane City Council to hear proposal for Business Improvement District rate increases

November 12, 2018

The Spokane City Council will consider raising annual fees for hundreds of downtown tenants inside the Business Improvement District during a hearing this evening.

The council will hear proposals for a range of changes to the BID, with the biggest changes affecting businesses that lease space in the district. Mark Richard, president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, said rates have gone largely unchanged for this group since the BID was created in the 1990s.

Fees are assessed differently for property owners and the businesses that lease space from them. Property owners pay a fee based on assessed property value – which has risen over time – while tenants pay based on square footage, which largely has not. Other categories, such as commercial parking garages, apartments or hotels, have their own metrics for calculating rates and fees.

Richard said there are more than 1,000 ratepayers inside the BID, an area which includes the region between First Avenue and Broadway Avenue and swaths of property between Walnut Street and Division Street.

For tenants and condo owners, the minimum fee for a rented or owned space is $90 a year, according to city council documents. The proposed increases would raise rates on business tenants a few cents per square foot.

Property owners still will be charged $1.10 if they own property in the most central parts of downtown , or 70 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value on the outskirts of downtown. The annual minimum fee for both tenants and property owners will increase to $110.

Hotels, which are assessed differently than property or tenants, would pay $25 instead of $20 per a room.

In addition to increasing the rates tenants pay to operate inside the BID, the City Council will consider expanding the district farther north of the Spokane River to include new properties like the Wonder Building. The council also will consider capping how much condo owners pay at $215, redistricting the improvement area, tightening the language around what is considered a nonprofit and eliminating exemptions for live performance theaters.

BID district dollars, which are managed by the Downtown Spokane Partnership, are used to pay for the Clean and Safe teams which clean up garbage, graffiti, care for plants, greet visitors and do security inside the district. They also are used for programing and business events, such as assisting businesses hosting events or ribbon cuttings.

Richard said the changes were based on recommendations from a consultant who reviewed similar cities and the BID board, which is made up of local businesses and city officials. He said the BID’s operating costs have increased over the years, due to an increased need for cleaning services downtown as well as minimum wage and sick leave changes, but ratepayer’s fees have not changed.

If the council approves the changes, Richard said he will increase the size and training for the Clean and Safe teams.

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