City Council to consider reduced Northampton BID fees
NORTHAMPTON — Nearly five years after adopting a controversial Northampton Business Improvement District, the City Council is expected to consider a petition Thursday that would lower fees for most members by 50 percent.
The BID’s decision to seek council permission to drop fees comes in response to a 2012 state law that requires the BID to take a renewal vote that would force all property owners within the downtown district to become members. A positive vote would significantly increase the size of the BID given that roughly 60 percent of property owners downtown chose not to join the organization when it was created nearly five years ago.
The BID has said the fee reduction is a precursor to holding that vote. The plan under consideration calls for a new structure that would cut the fee in half for most commercial properties. The change, if approved by the council, would take effect July 1.
The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building. The BID hearing is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Under the BID’s proposal, members would pay a fee based on the calculation of assessed valuation multiplied by .0025, down from .005. A building assessed at $500,000, for example, would pay $1,250 rather than $2,500.
Under current rules, residential condominiums and single-family residences are exempt from the BID and do not pay a fee. In its petition to the council, the BID proposes to keep the condominium exemption the same, but would like to change the exemption for single-family homes to mean any “exclusively residential buildings with less than four units.”
In addition to reducing the fee that most commercial property owners would pay, the BID also wants permission to drop fees for residential buildings and mixed-used residential and commercial buildings. The new fee would be set at $50 per residential unit and 50 cents per square foot of commercial space, compared to current rules that charge $100 per residential unit and $1 per square foot of commercial space.
Hotel owners would be charged a fee based on the assessed value of the property multiplied by .0025, rather than current fees of $200 per room.
There are no proposed changes for single-purpose entertainment or cultural venues, which would continue to pay a fee equal to the assessed value multiplied by .0025.
In proposing the changes, the BID is seeking to acknowledge the expansion of the district as a result of the August 2012 change to the BID law that eliminates the ability of property owners to opt out of a BID.