Greetings! We wanted to take the opportunity to share responses to the questions that were posed at our recent Public Meetings in regards to the BID formation. Please see below:
Q: How can I be ensured that the proposed BID will offer my store services? The Merchants of Third did not do very much up at the North End of district.
A: BIDs are legally required to provide services to all properties paying into the BID. The BID Administration with oversight from the Board of Directors are charged with delivering services equitably across the district. For example, agreed upon and approved sanitation services will be executed throughout the district. For site-specific events, there may be potential circumstances and logistics that prevent events from being produced in certain locations due to any number of reasons-construction, public transportation access, traffic mitigation, etc. For example, the Third Avenue Festival used to be 30 blocks long, until New York City shortened it to 20 to keep the cost of police and sanitation down. Our legislators at the time were able to add 4 more blocks, but could not get the whole 30 blocks back. The Summer Stroll was able to add the 6800 block the last two years.
Q: Will 69th/Bay Ridge Avenue be included in the BID?
A: Because Bay Ridge Avenue houses a significant number of business and commercial continuity, this proposal includes properties addressed 236 through 268 Bay Ridge Avenue
Q: I own a large property. Is there an assessment maximum for buildings?
A: No. When deciding on an assessment formula, the Steering Committee realized that putting a cap on the amount that a single property pays would mean disproportionately burdening smaller properties, which they explicitly did not want to do. However, the $200 base fee does work to lower the proportion that large buildings will pay. A base fee ensures that everyone is paying a minimum because of the fixed costs of running a non-profit.
The proposed assessment total will not exceed $560k/year. An assessment can always be billed at less than the max amount if so desired and approved by the finance committee and board of directors. This is generated by the proposed assessment formula that is: $200 base fee per taxable lot in the district plus $.127 per commercial square foot and $27.83 per linear foot of 3rd Avenue frontage, or side street frontage if included building is on side street and not a corner property.
The good news is that large buildings on the avenue that have never contributed to the vibrancy of the district will now make a financial contribution.
Q: I have reservations about supporting something I cannot withdraw from if desired at a later date.
A: This is an understandable concern. BID formation aims to be equitable in its assessments and services/programs delivery. In order to do this for a place-based organization, all properties within the proposed district are subject to assessment. Individual entities cannot elect to participate or abstain.
However, individual entities are not without representation. The members of the BID Board of Directors are elected as representatives of their stakeholder groups -- for example, a property owner board member represents the property owners in the district. The board is responsible for governing the organization, for hiring any paid staff, and for representing their constituencies. If stakeholders feel that they are not being properly represented by a member of the board, they have the opportunity to vote out that board member. Additionally property owners can petition the City to dissolve the BID, if stakeholders feel the organization is no longer needed.
A note about board composition:
In the BID model, a board of directors is elected by members of the BID. Because property owners pay the BID assessment on their Department of Finance bill, property owners must comprise the majority of the board. A BID board has a minimum of 13 members, and therefore a minimum of 7 property owners. Other board members must include at least one commercial tenant, one residential tenant, and four representatives from New York City -- NYC Department of Small Business services represents the Mayor, plus a representative of the NYC Comptroller, the Borough President, and the City Council member for that district.
Q: What is the formality or process in dissolving the BID if merchants and property owners are not satisfied?
A: The Board of Directors, who represent stakeholders in the district, can vote to initiate legislative action to dissolve a BID. Additionally property owners can petition the City to dissolve the BID, if stakeholders feel the organization is no longer needed. Finally, the district’s City Council representative can intervene and initiate a BID’s dissolution.
Q: Bay Ridge is a split community: who accesses the community’s separate needs, and how are funds “separately” allocated?
A: The BID Administration with oversight from the Board of Directors are charged with delivering services equitably across the district, in response to the distinct needs of different parts of the district. The BID Administration relies on the Board’s intrinsic knowledge as stakeholders within the Third Avenue corridor (see above for board composition) to advise on these varying needs.
Q: How much transparency is there, and how much input do the commercial renters or owners have to this?
A: In order for the BID to go through, NYC Department of Small Business Services needs to see “broad-based support” across all categories of stakeholder, including commercial renters.
Q: Who will run the BID?
A: YOU will — with the assistance of a paid professional. Third Avenue stakeholders are encouraged to participate and decide on money spent and services delivered to the Avenue, as well as who gets hired for staff positions. This will be a “you” organization, not a “those guys” organization — it is run by the Third Avenue community, not consultants, “outsiders”, or New York City employees. And the beauty of the BID is that everyone will contribute to the stability and enchantment of the Avenue.
Q: Why are those who are not paying get to vote?
A: Only stakeholders within the district get to vote. "Stakeholders" are those that own or rent a mixed use, parking, commercial or residential space on Third Avenue (and some side street buildings)- see map on ballot for tax lots in the geography.
As stated by SBS:
“Every BID formation effort must demonstrate broad-based support for the proposed BID in order for SBS to review and move into the legislative phase. Evidence of broad-based support includes the expectation that the steering committee has made exhaustive efforts to reach all stakeholder groups (property owners, commercial tenants, and residents) in the proposed district, and a significant proportion of each group has signed Statement of Supports in favor of the BID formation. SBS will only introduce proposed BIDs into the legislative process if SBS believes that the steering committee has engaged in an inclusive planning process, solicited robust community input, and has demonstrated broad-based support across all stakeholder groups of property owners and tenants.
Q: Is the BID intended as a replacement for the volunteer Business Association? If so, it seems like a rather large step. Is there an intermediary option?
A: It is part of the BID formation mission statement to “create an organizational structure to deliver goals in an efficient and cost effective manner, recognizing that every dollar spent will directly impact the avenue in a positive way.”
The Steering Committee set an assessment $560K/ yr as the maximum amount that can be billed. However, the Board of Directors, who represent stakeholders in the district (see above for board composition) can decide, in the interest of their constituents, to bill less than $560K/ yr, if they feel that the entire assessment budget is not necessary. The rough budget presented by the Steering Committee is maxed out in the first year to cover one-time start-up costs that won’t be necessary in years following, such as purchase of office furniture and equipment.
The process of raising the assessment is arduous, and requires a public review process. It was important to the Steering Committee to create a budget that could sustain the BID for many years, even with inflation, increases in minimum wage, etc, without having to go through the difficult process of raising the assessment.
The budget includes services never delivered to the Avenue: marketing, streetscape improvements, improved and more holiday event lighting, more street events like Summer Strolls, holiday and “shop small” promotions, and small business advocacy with the city bureaucracy. A dedicated administrator will manage all these events, and the budget has also allocated for a secondary staff person to support outreach — this means someone walking the street going door to door with businesses to check in and respond to their needs. For 25 years, volunteers have done this work for no charge. A dedicated professional staff is needed to do this work and expand upon it.
Q: Why is the 3rd Avenue BID budget higher than Park Slope BID, when one would assume expenses are higher in Park Slope?
A: See above response. Additionally, different neighborhoods have different needs, and Third Avenue’s Budget was decided based on a robust community outreach through surveys that identified shared concerns and priorities (over 800 surveys collected in total).
In addition, the representative from Park Slope indicated that this year’s budget would be $500,000 plus about $100,000 in event revenue and sponsorships, so in essence Third Avenue’s budget is smaller. As a BID we could also raise sponsorship dollars and apply for grants, and either lower the assessment or add enhancements beyond what we budgeted .
Q: Is there concrete data to prove that BIDs work?
A: See below, from the NYC Department of Small Business Services annual trends report from FY17. This chart shows total growth in sales in districts with BIDs versus the New York City average.