State’s BID revamp unfair to non-members
To the editor:
I strongly disagree with the Gazette’s position in its editorial (“Stronger BID law has merit,” Nov 2) that every property owner within the Northampton Business Improvement District should pay the membership fee (a tax).
The Northampton City Council cited the voluntary nature of the BID when it voted to allow its formation. The state has now eliminated this opt-out provision. Rather than simply acquiescing to the new rules, we should go back to square one and decide whether we want to have a BID, given this substantial change to an essential aspect of the program.
Let’s look at the math. There are 499 total properties within the boundaries of the BID. Of these 499, 219 are exempt from paying any fee for their membership (city, state, nonprofit, Smith College, residential properties.) Of the 280 fee-assessed properties, 167 opted-out of the Northampton BID. Let me emphasize, 60 percent of those eligible to join this private, voluntary organization chose not to!
I do not object to a voluntary BID. I do not deny that Main Street looks good with the holiday lights, the flower buckets and the good work done by the folks in the BID jackets. My BID-required-membership would increase my city taxes by 37 percent. My property is not on Main Street. I do not benefit from Restaurant Week, Sidewalk Sales Days or BID-sponsored marketing in Hartford and Brattleboro any more than someone who has property on Ryan Road.
I do not object to paying taxes. I do object to being forced to join a voluntary organization.
If this legislation stands, it should apply to new BIDs, not ones formed expressly with an opt-out provision. The City Council should withdraw its support for the formation of the current BID. Proponents can then try to form a new BID.
Richard E. Cooper