Beginning January 1, Fondren leaders will have their work cut out for them, as they take the next steps in forming the Fondren Business Improvement District (BID).
The district was approved by business and land owners there in the fall. However, the BID won’t become official until January 1, 2019.
“After the first of the year, we will move on setting our board of directors and filing our incorporation documents,” said Fondren Renaissance Foundation Executive Director Jim Wilkirson. “We’re in a holding pattern until then.”
Wilkirson spearheaded efforts to create the BID, which will take in the Fondren’s commercial corridor that runs from the intersection of North State Street and Old Canton Road to Hartfield and Glenway drives in the north.
In the fall, landowners there voted overwhelmingly to form the district, and have agreed to pay a special assessment along with their property taxes that will be used to enhance security, make public improvements, and market and promote the area.
The Hinds County tax collector will begin assessing properties in January, but the district won’t receive any funding until around February 2020, Wilkirson said.
Meanwhile, there’s still much work to do to ensure the district is a success.
Among steps, businesses there will have to appoint a board of directors, file incorporation papers and hire an executive director to oversee how BID funds are used.
“We have not decided how many board members we will have. We do know that it will be comprised only of landowners from within the BID,” he said. “It will not have anyone from outside of that group.”
All landowners within the BID boundaries are eligible to serve and vote.
“We will have a so-called annual meeting early in the first quarter to announce that our incorporate documents have been filed and to vote on a number of different things,” Wilkirson said.
No date for the meeting had been set at press time.
The board will have other questions to answer as well, including whether it will move forward with projects in the first year and if it will borrow against the funds expected to come in beginning 2020.
Early estimates show the assessment would generate about $235,000 a year.
Landowners will pay eight cents on every square foot of land owned and eight cents on every square foot of building owned within the district in addition to their regular property taxes.
For an owner with a 1,000-square-foot building and a 2,000-square foot parcel, the additional assessment would mean about $240 more a year in property taxes.
One-hundred and fifty parcels are located in the district, of which 47 are tax-exempt.
“Since there is definitive money that will come in on an annual basis, the BID could go to a financial institution and borrow money, if the board deems projects need to be started,” Wilkirson said.
Wilkirson does expect some projects to get under way next year, but said the scope would likely be small compared to the work that could be done when tax revenues start coming in.
Main objectives of the BID will include public safety, landscaping, maintenance, economic development and marketing and wayfinding upgrades.
Under city code, 50 percent of taxes collected will go toward public safety; 20 percent will go toward landscaping; economic development, marketing and wayfinding will each receive 2.5 percent; and 15 percent will go toward administrative costs.