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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 15, 2012 5 years ago

Circle will seek BID extension

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The St. Armands Business Improvement District (BID) Board of Directors will move forward with seeking a 10-year extension of its taxing district for future Circle enhancements and a coveted parking garage.

BID Chairman and leading organizer Marty Rappaport announced at the BID Board of Directors meeting Tuesday that legal counsel for the BID has held discussions with deputy city attorney Michael Connolly in an effort to move the extension forward.

“We have been asked to put this before the Sarasota City Commission at a future meeting,” Rappaport said. “We will present the referendum to the commissioners.”

Needs for another 10-year extension of the BID include gathering funds for a parking garage on the Circle, public bathrooms, burying power lines, more landscaping and Circle entrance signs for motorists.

A Circle garage that offers free parking and free valet service could free up parking on the Circle, according to BID board members.

The BID doesn’t intend to move forward with the 10-year extension and a $15,000 referendum effort until it clarifies some issues with the city of Sarasota first.

Currently, the BID consists of a merchant landowner and two landowner investors. It’s perceived that if a majority of merchants or merchant landowners were on the three-member board, the board could then choose to use the extra 2 mills generated for BID monies to fund merchant special events and pay for a BID executive director salary instead of funding capital-improvement projects.

Rappaport presented desired changes for BID requirements last month that mandate a board member must be an owner and taxpayer of property within the district. To avoid conflicts of interest, Rappaport also suggests no two directors can serve if they share ownership on one or more properties within the district.

And to ensure the BID remains a landowner association, Rappaport proposes that at no time can there be any more than one director who is both a landowner and a merchant within the district.

Without those changes, Rappaport said the BID does not have the support of the Circle landowners for a simple majority vote to approve an extension of the BID.

On Tuesday, Rappaport said the city attorney’s office agrees with most of those points and the discussion will ensue at a future commission meeting.

The BID agrees the last 10 years of taxing its Circle property owners an extra 2 mills has been beneficial, funding a dozen projects and helping to create more than $2.5 million worth of improvements.

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