By Cameron Rasmusson
Following a long process of information gathering, the city is ready to start reworking the Sandpoint Business Improvement District.
A workshop set for Wednesday, July 19, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at Sandpoint City Hall will guide the process of reshaping the BID. According to Sandpoint City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton, business owners, BID members and anyone else interested in reworking the downtown district should attend to contribute their thoughts.
The BID is a local business fee collected to fund special events and marketing and outreach services envisioned as being mutually beneficial. However, the program has faced steady criticism for being inequitable, benefiting some businesses more than others.
Since last year, the city has gathered data from downtown businesses to identify desired changes, with 75 individuals responding to a survey conducted by Boise State University students. The city followed up by bringing on Roger Woodworth of Mindset Matters to engage business owners and assess the situation.
“The current approach to operating Sandpoint’s BID is seriously flawed,” Woodworth said in report prepared for the upcoming workshop. “Member apathy, rather than engagement, prevails. Of those who do engage, most expect something better; a few prefer to simply end the mechanism altogether.”
The focus of next week’s workshop is a series of possible actions outlined in Woodworth’s report. These include ending fee assessment unless businesses approve new standards of operation for the BID, sunsetting current operations to force a reset of expectations and maintaining the established BID boundary to preserve businesses’ option to organize.