The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 4, 2013

Downtown group proposes district to fund economic development

By Debby Woodin

JOPLIN, Mo. — A proposal to form a community improvement district in downtown Joplin was outlined Thursday at a public meeting conducted by the Downtown Joplin Alliance.

Trisha Patton, executive director of the alliance, told about 25 business operators that a community improvement district, or CID, is a defined area in which property owners pay a fee that funds projects and activities that increase property values and business viability.

CIDs are common across the U.S. and in a number of foreign countries as a way to finance economic development, she said.

Members of the alliance talked last year in meetings and open forums and filled out surveys regarding ideas for projects to enhance the downtown district. Chiefly, the CID would provide revenue to finance those projects, Patton said.

“This is 100 percent managed by stakeholders,” who are property owners and business owners, Patton said. A board composed of property owners and business operators in the district makes decisions regarding the expenditure of the funds, and provides an annual report to members and the city on its funding status and activities.

Patton said a committee of alliance members has studied CID formation and uses. She said the type of district in the works is one funded by a special assessment on property owners. For a CID to be formed, more than half the owners of commercial parcels of property as well as owners of more than half the assessed value of property in the district must sign petitions in favor of establishing the CID.

The CID then must obtain the consent of the City Council. If that happens, a CID agreement must be filed with the county. The county collects the assessments and disburses the revenue to the CID board.

Patton said the proposed annual assessment is 75 cents on every $100 of assessed value. Property is assessed at 32 percent of its appraised value. That would mean the owner of a building appraised at $100,000 and assessed at $32,000 would pay a special assessment of $240 a year.

The proposed district would encompass commercial properties from C Street south to 15th Street, from Wall Avenue to Kentucky Avenue.

Jeff Neal, a construction contractor who owns property downtown, said that while the CID board and the alliance board would be different entities, “it’s envisioned that the CID will help fund the activities of the DJA. Many of the long-term goals of the Downtown Joplin Alliance cannot happen without the CID,” because the alliance currently has no revenue of its own.

“The city has been very gracious over the last three years to provide funding, but that funding is going away,” Neal said. That is why the City Council suggested that the alliance form a CID. “This is a way for us to control our future downtown,” he said.

Patton said the CID committee would like to have the district in place by July 31 in order to start receiving money from it next year. It is estimated that the proposed district has an assessed value of more than $12 million, which would provide more than $90,000 the first year.

More public meetings will be announced regarding the proposal, Patton said, and individual property and business owners will be called on to explain the proposal.

City funding

THE DOWNTOWN JOPLIN ALLIANCE this year has $37,000 in funding from the city. Next year, that reduces to $13,000. No city funding is planned after 2015.