Ron Rayevich went before the Downtown Improvement District (DID) board last week to make a simple request: He wanted to be taxed.
Rayevich, president of the Plaza at Five Points Condominium Association, proposed the DID incorporate residential property owners within the district. The DID would then use tax dollars from residential owners to add security to fight issues such as vagrancy and noise violations downtown.
In addition to the Plaza at Five Points, condominium units within the DID are located at 100 Central Ave., 1350 Main St. and 1330 Main St. Rayevich said there was interest from all four associations in joining the DID and being taxed at a reduced rate of .5 mills, as long as their money was used solely for increasing safety and cleanliness in the area. Non-residential DID members are taxed 2 mills.
According to Peter Fanning, president of the Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association, there are approximately 300 residents represented by the four condominium associations. At the millage rate of .5 mills, these residents would pay between $90,000 and $100,000 to the DID in total.
The DID, though, is not exactly welcoming the residential owners with open arms. DID board member Dr. Mark Kaufmann said he didn’t want discussions disrupted by residential members. Kauffman was adamant that the board not expand to seven members by adding two residents, as Rayevich and Fanning proposed.
“The DID is made up now of owners downtown,” Kauffman said. “We have a lot of problems and things we discuss, and I personally don't think it should be diluted with the residents.”
Fanning proposed having one member of a five-person board represent residents, but Rayevich was less amenable to change. He said one resident representative could be seen as advocating for one building rather than all residents, and that a seven-person board would be perfectly manageable.
“I have a difficult time being convinced your interest as property owners downtown and my interest as a property owner is so far apart that we can't agree on things,” Rayevich said.
There was further disagreement about including the condominiums at Bay Plaza in this plan. Bay Plaza, located at 1255 Gulfstream Ave., sits just outside of the DID’s boundaries. Fanning and Rayevich said an expansion of the DID to incorporate Bay Plaza could significantly delay the timeline of their efforts.
Fanning said an ordinance to incorporate residential owners into the DID would have to receive a second reading by the Sarasota City Commission by Dec. 4 in order to collect tax dollars in 2014.
Still, the DID board offered its support only under the conditions that one member represent residents and that Bay Plaza is included.
"If it can't be done immediately, it won't be done immediately,” Kauffman said. “I think it's more important to do it right than to do it quickly."
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