AUTHOR’S NOTE: The community deserves to have access to information about how they are governed, taxed and how their tax dollars are spent. This is our current understanding of BID structure and formation. NGL, it’s pretty dry, and full of acronyms. We tried to simplify it as much as possible. If you have a correction for information listed below, please contact us with the update and citation.
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a “geographical area where local stakeholders oversee and fund the maintenance, improvement, and promotion of their commercial district.”1 BIDs have geographic boundaries made up of tax lots, and a District Management Association (DMA)
Geographic boundaries (BID)
The image at left has been used by the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC). Red line added for emphasis and irony. They are still early in the process and have not submitted an official plan to Rochester City Council for their approval. Without this approval the BID cannot be formed.
District Management Association (DMA) – a Nonprofit organization composed of a board of directors. The Rochester Downtown Partnership (RDP) is the name of the proposed DMA. They have contracted with the RDDC to do the initial work required to create a BID. The following names are listed on the RDDC website:
ROCHESTER DOWNTOWN PARTNERSHIP (RDP) Board Composition, as of 1/14/22
Malik Evans, Rochester Mayor
Miguel Meléndez, Rochester City Council President
Adam Bello, Monroe County Executive
Jeremy Cooney, Member, NYS Senate
Demond Meeks, Member, NYS Assembly
Vincent Esposito, Empire State Development (Advisory, Non-Voting)
Rich Perrin, Downtown Enhancement District
Chris Hill, Vice President of I Gordon Corporation, (RDDC Board Chair)
Andy Gallina, President of Gallina Development Corporation, RDDC (Appointed)
Joe Stefko ROC 2025 (Appointed)
Bob Duffy, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce (CEO)
Jim Brown, Floreano Convention Center (Executive Director)
Rachel Laber, Visit Rochester (Appointed)
Dawn Williams-Fuller, Downtown Property Owner
Stefanie Schwingle, Downtown Resident
Shawn Dunwoody, Community Member
Ebony Miller-Wesley, University Representative
Eugenio Marlin, Community Advisory Committee
UPDATE 6/8: The President & CEO of RDDC will serve as RDP’s Executive Director, Galin Brooks, formerly of the DowntownDC BID and NoMA Neighborhood BID will be replacing Heidi Zimmer-Meyer June 20.
It is unclear as to whether these individuals, aside from the executive director, would serve as the executive board if the BID is approved. It is also entirely likely that many of these community members have been unaware of the negative implications of a BID. According to NYS Law a BID is specifically governed by a majority of property owners.
A BID has the power to levy taxes on property and business owners within the BID. Taxes are collected by the city and passed through to the BID for use at their discretion to supplement public services including hiring private security, urban design, sanitation, infrastructure, economic development and events.
BID Accountability and Transparency:
Unlike City Council or other government bodies,
a BID is private and is not subject to Freedom of Information Law or Open Meetings Law.
How a BID is enacted:
- District plans are presented and submitted to the clerk (map, proposed uses of land, improvements and costs, funding sources, proposed rules or regs for district, list of benefitted properties, and identity of the district management association)
- A resolution initiating the process must be introduced and passed by City Council. (UPDATE: 7/30- THIS MOTION IS CURRENTLY BEING HELD, IT IS UNCLEAR AS TO HOW LONG)
- Council can introduce the resolution on its own, or at the request of the association president (Galin Brooks) And a public hearing is held.
- Any property owner within the proposed district plan who does not wish the BID to proceed must file an objection at the office of the municipal clerk within 30 days of the hearing.
- The BID must be approved by either:
- Business owners that represent 51% of the taxable property within the proposed boundaries of the district. (ex: you own Park Place on the Monopoly board with a hotel, your approval is weighted greater than the owner of St. James Place with three houses, and far more than an undeveloped Mediterranean)
- at least fifty-one percent of the owners of property within the proposed boundaries.
- Council must pass a local law with a permissive referendum.
- If the law passes by referendum, it (and other docs) must be sent to the state comptroller for review and approval; if approved, the law is effective