How is a BID going to help businesses?

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To the editor:

I read the article “Bidding on the new BID initiative?” in the July 20 Alexandria Times and realized I didn’t have a very good understanding of what problem the initiative was trying to solve. According to the Old Town Business Association, BID is de- fined as:

“…defined areas in a city or county in which property owners pay an additional, annual special tax (on top of the standard real property taxes) which is utilized to promote and improve the business environment within the BISD. … BISD[s] organize and manage services, activities, and events in the BISD, as well as arrange amenities above and beyond what a city or county would typically provide.”

I thought Old Town currently has quite a few activities and visitors, so is BISD’s purpose to add additional activities so there are more visitors? Or is BISD going to provide resources to expand visitor parking, so the visitors don’t park in the zoned parking for

more than two hours preventing residents, who also pay for their parking permits, to park near their homes?

If BISD’s purpose is to help small shop owners, adding an additional tax doesn’t seem very helpful.

The rents on King Street are very high; BISD could help small shop owners by helping them pay their rent? Or maybe a better idea would be for City Council to adopt a resolution limiting the amount of rent a landlord could charge a tenant. That could be done in several ways, including limiting it to no more than a certain percentage of the shop owners’ revenues operating on a sliding scale based upon each tax year’s revenues.

That would be a more direct way to deal with the issue of high rents. If either of those are its purpose, it seems like BISD is a very indirect way to solve a more easily solvable problem.

-Sydney Smith, Alexandria

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