Downtown businesses get to decide whether they want to keep paying to be represented by their local improvement area.
During Monday's night's meeting, council pulled the trigger on the alternative approval process for the renewal of the bylaw that keeps the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) active.
The current bylaw expires on March 31.
The DBIA is funded through a local area service tax on properties in the subject area. The society's executive are asking for a five-year renewal of their funding, but want to give their membership the opportunity to say no. The group has budgeted to receive a levy from the city totalling $212,863 for 2013. Other revenue comes from Summerfest and the city's portion of the flower basket costs.
The next steps will be two weeks of notification in the newspaper and then letters will be mailed to the property owners subject to the tax in the DBIA area. A second public notice will mark the beginning of a 30-day period for those property owners to submit petitions against the bylaw. Fifty per cent of owners whose properties represent at least 50 per cent of the assessed value of the land must counter-petition to keep council from renewing the bylaw.
Coun. Frank Everitt didn't want to run into the same hurdle the city faced when they went through the process to try to borrow money for the River Road dyke project.
"I would rather council make a decision and stick with it," said Everitt, who was the sole vote against opening the process.
But given that the request was coming from the DBIA, that was not council's call, Mayor Shari Green and legislative clerk Walter Babicz explained.
"It's not up to us if a group of property owners wish to self tax," Green said.