Town Council and Planning Commission consider Property-Based Improvement District.
A new assessment is poised to follow on the heels of the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) passed last July. Urban design and planning studio Winter & Company, which acted as lead consultant on the Main Street Plan, presented its recommendation that the Town pursue a Property-Based Improvement District (PBID) at Wednesday’s Special Town Council meeting.
“We felt TBID is promoting the product,” said Noré Winter of Winter & Co.; “We’re helping enhance the product.”
According to presenter Jamie Licko of Centro, Inc., (a consultant for the consultant!) the PBID would generate money through an additional property assessment placed on property owners’ tax bills in a specific district area. The PBID would be led and managed by stakeholders, with the Town acting as a partner.
Collected funds would go toward the overall management of the district, as well as maintenance and enhancements (such as snow removal, trash and recycling services), special events, and parking and access management.
Like the TBID, the PBID would require the support of 50 percent plus one of property owners (excuse me, propertry owners paying more than 50 percent plus one of the tax – like the TBID, it marginalizes the little guy in the voting), and would depend upon Council approval. Unlike the TBID, the PBID would also be subject to a Prop. 218 vote.
The assessment would last for five years, with an option to renew for 10 years after.
The PBID would be just one funding strategy intended to improve snow removal and parking on Main Street, and perhaps even in the Village and Old Mammoth districts.
Winter & Co. also recommended the Town pursue an Infrastructure Financing District (IFD) to take the place of Redevelopment, and a 503c3 Community Development Corporation (CDC).
An IFD would be Town-led, with support from the affected taxing bodies, such as the School District and Fire District. The IFD would not increase existing property taxes. Instead, a percentage of the growth in property tax above that baseline level would be re-dedicated to improvements in infrastructure. An IFD can be established for up to 30 years.
Finally, a CDC, as a non-profit, would be managed by a Board of Directors. It would act in a supplementary fundraising capacity.
Licko said that the PBID has the potential to raise about $557,384 annually for Main Street. That money would go toward public and private snow removal and maintenance, as well as trash, recycling, and additional services such as events and infrastructure.
The IFD could generate between $20,000-57,000 in its first year, depending on whether it focused on specific project sites or an entire district area.
That number would go up dramatically, Licko said, should property values rise because of improvements. That number would also change depending on which taxing bodies agreed to the IFD; Winter & Co. had assumed only 50 percent would.
Councilmember John Eastman expressed skepticism that any taxing bodies would be willing to give up more revenue after three drought years and a recession.
“They’re hurting with their revenue today,” he said. “It seems like it would be extra hard for them to set aside money for a tax increment.”
“Yes, it will be hard,” agreed Noré Winter. But, he argued, “They benefit from the value being generated in this community … It will be a business decision for them.”
The benefit of the IFD in particular could be improved parking in areas that have gone without for years.
“The assumption is to start with a multi-level structure at the Village,” said Dennis Burns of Kimley-Horn, a partner on the Main Street project. Through that parking structure, he said, “You could generate the funds to bond for a second structure on Main Street.”
Burns said a 330-space garage would cost between $148,000-$162,000 per year to operate, but through hourly, monthly, or valet rates, would generate about $530,000 in revenue.
John Eastman questioned whether paid parking would make Mammoth less attractive to visitors who are accustomed to free parking in similar resort towns.
“Many of [those towns] do actually charge for parking,” Noré Winter replied. “Park City; Vail; Aspen. They do cycle with the seasons, however.”
Satisfied, Eastman pointed out the irony of building a Village parking facility with IFD, which has replaced Redevelopment, when Redevelopment was intended to fund such a project more than 10 years ago.
Planning and Economic Development Commission Chair Mickey Brown questioned what would happen if taxing authorities refuse to participate in the IFD. “What’s the second option?” she asked.
“IFD is the best option,” Licko replied.
Town Council and PEDC (Planning and Economic Development) Commissioners next questioned how to finance the formation of a PBID and IFD.
Licko said the cost of creating the PBID would be about $75,000 including legal fees, an engineers report, and the election of the assessment. “IFD would be similar to that,” she said.
However, she noted that entities that help fund the formation of a PBID can be repaid out of the PBID’s first year of revenues.
“You could do it in chunks,” she said. “You don’t need all of the money tomorrow.”
“Have you ever seen someone front the money and then PBID or IFD was not approved?” wondered Brown.
“I have not, in my personal experience,” Licko replied. “[And] from out meetings, there seems to be a willingness to explore [these options].”
When asked how many business owners Licko had met with to discuss the PBID and IFD, she replied that she had spoken to a couple of dozen; “certainly the large businesses,” she said.
John Vereuck, a Main Street district property owner, had little criticism to offer the proposal, instead complementing Winter & Co. as “by far the best consulting firm we’ve had.”
His suggestion: form a small committee with representatives from Main Street, the Village, and Old Mammoth, to discuss the formation of the PBID and IDF.
Town Council and PEDC Commissioners agreed, saying they would recommend such a steering committee to Council at the June 4 meeting.