Taking a Downtown Management District Idea to City Hall

Oct 17, 2013

Credit en.wikipedia.org

A new property tax on certain downtown businesses and residences is under consideration in Lexington.  It would create a downtown management district…which would work to beautify the neighborhood.  Renae Jackson, who’s president of the Downtown Lexington Corporation, says it would eventually improve the value of their property.

“You know, it’s an economic development tool.  I mean, you hear that all the time, but it really is a proven tool that cities all over the world have used.  There’s over two thousand in the world, 12 hundred in the United States and that number grows every year,” said Jackson.

First, it must win the support of property owners and Lexington’s council.  Member Kevin Stinnett worries the assessment could hurt business.

“Is it good to put another tax on business, especially when you are trying to attract people downtown.  Wouldn’t that hurt our efforts in economic development downtown if we’re adding another tax to business owners?” asked Stinnett.

Jackson says money generated through a district tax would finance additional maintenance, beautification, better signs, and services for tourists.     Council member Shevawn Akers likes the concept.

“You see special garbage cans that say downtown Louisville in downtown Louisville or you see certain planters in downtown Denver or you see like you mentioned beautification efforts and landscaping, so I don’t doubt it would improve aesthetically our downtown,” said Akers.

If enacted, the district could collect a dollar for every thousand-dollars in property value.  Council member Ed Lane, like Stinnette, worries about the tax impact on the commercial sector.

“I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s not like a thousand dollars here and a thousand dollars there, but it starts to add up after a while and I think we have to be sensitive to that, particularly trying to attract businesses to come downtown,” said Lane.

Before it can go before council, at least a third of affected property owners must approve.