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Decision Expected May 15 On Downtown Tax District

After a series of open meetings, the City Council will determine the fate of the proposed downtown Parking and Business Improvement Area on May 15.

The 10-month-old campaign, spearheaded by the Downtown Action Committee, would create a taxing district and generate $675,000 for downtown improvements and beefed-up security.

The most enthusiastic advocates include property owners and representatives of large businesses such as Nordstrom and The Bon Marche. Business and property owners representing more than 70 percent of the assessed taxes have already signed a petition in support of the proposal, said PBIA consultant Karen Valvano.

Some detractors worry that the proposal to hire six or seven security guards would be minimally effective. Others complain that tax dollars will finance parking primarily for shoppers at Nordstrom or The Bon.

According to the proposal, store owners and tenants in the core of the project’s boundaries will pay more than those on the periphery. The minimum tax is $120 per year for every business, organization, building and property; the maximum assessment is $38,000.

The city of Spokane would contribute $200,000 per year to the PBIA mainly revenue from reinstated parking meters - as well as pay the assessment on public buildings such as City Hall and the library.

If the council approves the PBIA, all businesses and property owners within the plan’s boundaries must pay an assessment - even those who did not approve the petition. Once the initiative receives council approval, merchants and owners would have to organize a similar petition drive to dissolve the PBIA.

The City Council will vote on the initiative May 15, after a series of public debates. All meetings are open to the public and begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Here’s a schedule of events related to the taxing district:

Monday: PBIA supporters will present their agenda and reports to the City Council.

May 1: The city sends out bulletins to all businesses and property owners in the assessed district notifying them of the upcoming public hearing.

May 8: The city presents its report on the reinstatement of parking meters in the downtown retail corridor.

Monday, May 15: In a formal public hearing, the City Council will vote on the PBIA initiative.

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