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Home > Featured > Property owners provide no pushback against Business Improvement District funding

Property owners provide no pushback against Business Improvement District funding

By Jeri Chadwell
Reno Police were enforcing a 5:30 p.m. curfew in Reno after the previous night of riots. Image: Eric Marks

The Reno City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve nearly $3 million in property tax assessments to fund the Downtown Reno Business Improvement District’s (BID) operations for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

According to Jeff Limpert, management analyst with the city manager’s office, it was the first time in the four years since the BID was formed that no written protests or objections to the assessments were submitted by the property owners—which include commercial, governmental, nonprofit and private residential properties.

Recently, perennial political candidate George “Eddie” Lorton lost a petition he filed in May of 2019 for a judicial review of the City of Reno’s handling of assessments charged to property owners within the BID. Lorton had wanted his downtown property exempted from assessments, but the Second Judicial Court denied his request.

There were, however, 13 non-stakeholders who submitted public comment in support, one person in opposition and a letter of concern.

The Downtown Reno BID was formed in 2018 to replace two special assessment districts—one for policing and one for maintenance.

Reno’s BID is funded by the property owners within its boundaries, who pay an assessment on their properties’ values to the BID. The county tax assessor’s office collects the money as a percentage on top of the owners’ other property taxes.

Reno Ambassadors provide assistance to a person living homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic. Image: Eric Marks
Reno Ambassadors provide assistance to a person living homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

For fiscal year 2021-2022, the BID will be funded at $2.97 million.

In order for a BID to be formed, a threshold must be met of property owners within its area that are willing to participate. According to Alex Stettinski, executive director of the Downtown Reno Partnership that operates the BID, somewhere around 61% of property owners in downtown signed on for it.

The Row is the biggest contributor to the BID. Saint Mary’s is another big contributor. Contributors are broken down into three categories based upon the level of services they receive—standard, premium and premium-plus.

Standard BID services include access to the city’s Clean & Safe Team and the Reno Ambassadors, who patrol the area on Segways and provide outreach to unsheltered individuals in addition to things like directions for visitors. Premium level members receive additional cleaning services like pressure washing of their properties and graffiti cleanup. Premium-plus BID members—which are mostly located throughout the casino corridor—get daily maintenance. Their assessments help pay for things like the lighting of trees along Virginia Street and the Reno ReTRAC Beautification Project.

The BID will receive a formal review in 2023. It will be dissolved in 2028. At that time, it would take a new petition for formation of a new BID should property owners in the area want one.

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