Ron Rayevich appeared at today's Downtown Improvement District (DID) meeting to seek an easier path for residential property owners to be included in the district. Instead, he found more resistance than when he first presented the idea two weeks ago.
Rayevich, the president of the Plaza at Five Points Condominium Association, is leading an effort to include downtown condo owners in the DID, currently only made up of commercial property owners. Taxed at a reduced rate of .5 mills — commercial owners currently pay 2 mills — the revenue generated from residential owners would go towards improving safety, security and cleanliness downtown.
Ernest Ritz, the DID board chairman, was absent at the meeting at which Rayevich first suggested the expansion. Today, he was staunchly opposed to the idea. He called the reduced tax rate residential members would pay unfair. He also said adding a residential member to the DID’s five-person board would distract from the original purpose of the district.
"That's why we're here,” Ritz said. “We're commercial property owners."
Ritz suggested the condominium boards could collect money from members by charging them directly rather than the DID taxing them. That money could then be used along with DID funds to hire additional security downtown without actually expanding the DID. That suggestion did not sit well with Rayevich.
“We had a revolution about that, taxation without representation,” Rayevich said. “We want representation.'
Rayevich hit another setback with the board when he said about $60,000 would be generated from adding residential members. Originally, the tax revenue was estimated at between $90,000 and $100,000.
The board supported the proposal at its Sept. 17 meeting under the condition that the condominiums at Bay Plaza, currently outside of the DID boundaries, were included. Rayevich came to today’s meeting asking for that condition to be waived so the process could be expedited, but the board took no action.
Instead, they asked Rayevich to return with a better idea of whether or not condominium owners were in favor of joining the DID. Discussion regarding the expansion will continue at the DID’s Oct. 29 meeting.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].