By Cameron Rasmusson
Local businesses have the chance to weigh in on the fate of the Business Improvement District next week.
According to Sandpoint City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton, the city is preparing to release a survey to gauge public opinion on the BID, a local tax on downtown businesses to fund special events, marketing and promotions. Business owners can complete the survey either by mailing it back to the city or filling it out online, with a deadline set for the end of the year.
“We’re hoping to have initial survey results for the council sometime in January,” Stapleton told council members.
The city is partnering with Boise State University to gather the public opinion data. A graduate student class is preparing and administrating the survey to provide a more scientific and thorough analysis of the public’s wishes. The collaboration was originally proposed this fall. However, it required approval by university officials before the project could proceed, Stapleton said.
Long a controversial measure, the BID is lauded by some as a mutually beneficial arrangement and criticized by others as a costly fee that disproportionately benefits some businesses. Originally managed by the Downtown Sandpoint Business Administration, it was later absorbed by the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce as an independently managed and governed entity sharing equipment and office space.
Earlier this year, BID manager Kim Queen resigned, throwing the future of the district into question. Since Queen’s departure, the chamber has contracted BID services out using funds freed up from the BID manager salary. [CR]
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