What is a Special Improvement District?
A Special Improvement District (SID) is a private, not-for-profit organization established under state law. A SID is a mechanism through which downtown property owners assess themselves to provide funding for extended services aimed at the economic enhancement of the area. The need for such services has arisen as traditional U.S. cities have faced competition from shopping malls, out-of-town business/shopping centers and other new business districts. The experience of more than 1,000 existing SIDs throughout the United States has demonstrated the effectiveness of this mechanism in addressing the present economic and social challenges of urban development.
Why support a SID?
We all pay city taxes that are used for priorities all over the city, not just in the downtown area. Legally, funds raised by the SID must be used in the same area that is being assessed—in this case SID funds must be used only for improvements and services that benefit the defined SID boundaries. SID services will not replace city services; rather they are an addition or complement to the services.
Why was the SID formed in Downtown Akron?
Downtown Akron suffered decline as a result of the nation-wide trend of the outflow of business and residential development from the city into suburbs and malls. The first SID was established in 2000 and was renewed again in 2005, 2010 and 2015.
The Mary Means Report of 1994 sponsored by the city of Akron and Akron Tomorrow identified the need for a private, non-profit organization to work with business and government to create and maintain a vital downtown. The report emphasized the need for private sector participation in downtown management and marketing. The city and local business leaders agreed that employing the increasingly popular and time-proven mechanism of a SID in Downtown Akron will best address the unique needs of the downtown community.
Who manages the SID?
To maximize accountability to ratepayers, the SID operating plan provides criteria for a SID board of directors (link to exofficio under board of directors) that will consist of property and business owners representing different geographic areas, property and business types from the district. The seven-member board includes five property owners (at least one representing small property owners) and two city representatives (one designated by the mayor, and one designated by city council). The board is determined by an election of the members. The SID awarded a contract to the Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP), to fulfill the services plan. Additionally, DAP has a board of directors that is established to monitor the daily operations of the organization.
Who pays for it?
The improvement activities of the SID are financed by assessment of downtown property owners.
The assessment is based on the combination of the front footage and assessed valuation of the property. This combination approach was chosen because it is fair to everyone. For example, while a parking lot may have a sizeable front footage, it is not fair to assess it the same way that a corporate headquarters with the same front footage is assessed.
How much do property owners pay?
Property owners are assessed based on a formula that takes into account property front footage, assessed land and building values. Each property’s front footage is divided by the sum total of SID front footages. This percentage is then multiplied by 750,000 (proposed SID budget).
Next, the assessed land and building values, set by the county auditor’s office, are added together. This sum is divided by the total assessed values of the SID properties. Also multiply this percentage by 750,000.
The final step is to add 25 percent of the front footage calculation to 75 percent of the assessed value calculation to arrive at the SID assessment number.
What properties are included?
Assessments are levied and all the services will be provided within the approved borders of the SID. The SID encompasses a large area of downtown of about 42 blocks containing approximately 590 properties. The area is roughly bound by Ridge St. on the north, N. High St., Summit St. and the CSX railroad tracks on the east, Selle St. on the south, and W. Bowery St. and Dart Ave. on the west.
What kinds of programs does SID fund?
Improvement programs and services funded by the SID have been developed and provided according to the SID Services Plan approved by the board of trustees. The services plan is designed to effectively meet the unique improvement needs of Downtown Akron.
Isn't that what my property taxes are already paying for?
No. SIDs are designed to boost and reinforce economic enhancement of downtown areas by providing a range of focused services customized to local needs in addition to standard municipal services. No municipal services are replaced. SID dollars are used to enhance existing services or create new ones.
What is the return on this investment?
The returns on this investment are high. Through the SID, the Downtown Akron Partnership concentrates on long-term development, as well as short-term goals.
Among other results of the SID improvement activities, property owners will see:
- A safe, clean and secure downtown environment
- Increased property values
- Increased occupancy rates in downtown buildings
- Ongoing, coordinated marketing programs
- Larger downtown employee base—more customers
- Continuity in capital projects and future development
- Well-coordinated special events
- A consistent and positive image of downtown
- An organization in place to concentrate on long-term development, as well as on short-term goals.
How did the SID get established?
A petition was approved and signed by owners at least 60 percent of the total district's property front footage. It was approved by the mayor and city council in 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015.
Can the SID be disbanded?
Yes. Should the SID fail to meet the expectations of downtown property owners, they can disband the district upon a request signed by owners of 50 percent of the total district's property front footage.
Who do I contact for more information?
Downtown Akron Partnership