Property owners within Fondren BID prepare to vote on board of directors

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Property owners in the Fondren Business Improvement District (BID) will soon have to vote on another aspect of the new district – its board of directors.

Local leaders are moving forward with the implementation of the BID, with the articles of incorporation expected to be completed in the next 30 days, and a board of directors expected to be in place in the next 60.

The district takes in most of Fondren’s commercial district. In November, property owners there voted overwhelmingly to pay a special assessment along with their property taxes, which will go toward beautification and other BID-specific improvements.

Up next, the articles of incorporation, the BID’s founding documents, will have to be filed with the Mississippi secretary of state’s office, and from there, a board will have to be appointed.

Lisa Wigington, president of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation (FRF), the group spear-heading BID efforts, said the goal is to have a board that makes up a “fair representation” of BID property owners.

She said FRF will likely present a slate of candidates to property owners, who could vote for those candidates and/or write in a candidate of their choice.

It was unclear exactly when the slate would be finalized or when ballots would be sent out. Wigington said FRF has been in talks with individuals interested in serving.

“We have had some conversations with a few different property owners,” she said. “We want to make sure we have fair representation.”

Details were still being worked out, but plans are to have seven members. Once the directors are in place, board members will then appoint their own executive committee – the chair, vice-chair, secretary and so forth.

The board will also draw up the BID’s by-laws and direct how BID funds are used. The next executive director of FRF will help the board implement those plans.

“We drafted a plan so that the executive director of FRF will help administer the program,” Wigington said. “The board itself will manage the money.”

The BID is bordered by Lakeland Drive at I-55 to the east, Oxford Avenue between Hartfield and Taylor drives to the west, the intersection of North State Street and Old Canton Road to the south and Hartfield and Glenway Drive to the north.

One-hundred and fifty parcels are located in the district, of which 47 are tax-exempt.

Eighty-four percent of eligible property owners voted to approve the BID last November.

Under the BID, commercial property owners will pay an additional eight cents per square foot of land and eight cents per square of foot of developed property.

The tax will generate approximately $235,000 a year.

Main objectives of the Fondren BID include public safety, landscaping and maintenance, economic development and marketing and signage upgrades. Fifty percent of the budget, or $117,000, will go toward public safety; landscaping will take up 20 percent of the budget; while economic development and marketing and wayfinding will each receive 2.5 percent of the budget. The remaining 15 percent of BID funding will go toward administrative costs.

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