P.C. officials discuss creating improvement district


Plain City is exploring options to form a Special Improvement District (SID) for the village.
At the work session Wednesday, council met with Shannon Fergus a city-planning consultant with the firm MS Consultants. Fergus specializes in economic development with a focus in the downtown area of cities.
“It’s a pretty interesting economic development tool that isn’t used as much in Ohio as it is in other parts of the country,” Fergus said. “In Ohio, I think we have 23 or 24 Special Improvement Districts—most of them are in the larger cities. We have six here in Columbus.”
SIDs are created by having a group of property owners come together and create a boundary that is then assessed to provide funding for extended services in that area related to economic enhancement. The group is a private nonprofit organization governed by a board of directors that is made up of the property owners. The village currently has the Uptown Plain City Organization that is made up of volunteers who do similar work in expanding growth and development of the uptown area.
“Typically what happens is either the executive director of that or whatever staff member is involved runs both organizations as one. The budgets and the board just has to be separated,” Fergus said. “While you would have to create this new nonprofit, they certainly can work in conjunction with each another.”
Government property and churches are exempt from SID assessments but nonprofits are not since the SID is an assessment, not a tax. According to Fergus, it typically costs the city $20,000-30,000 to start the process but she added smaller towns like Plain City who often have smaller numbers of properties involved would cost significantly less.
The process is done in three phases. First, the consultant would meet with property owners and see who would be involved and what amount of money they would like to raise. Phase two would be to petition to get 60% of the frontage represented signed on to the group or 75% of all square footage.
Phase three is council has to approve the SID creation and levy the assessment on behalf of the district.
The auditor or fiscal representative would then put the assessment on the tax bill and the money goes from the village to the SID.
Once passed, the board is created and made of a minimum of five members—two of them are appointed by the village and the rest are property owners.
“This is quickly becoming a popular thing for small cities and communities to do,” Fergus said. She added that services include topics of cleaning, safety, beautification and range from landscaping to snow removal. They can also help with infrastructure improvements. “SIDs can really do anything and everything.”
Mayor Darrin Lane said the SID is something that could help the village in its continuing growth.
“I think this could be a great resource and tool moving forward,” Lane said. “It’s something that could help improve the uptown and act like a larger home owners association,”
No decisions were made on when or if the village would move forward but Fergus said if the village is interested to contact her to begin a cost proposal process.

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