The Benicia City Council, at their April 5th meeting, approved a contract with Civitas Advisors for services to determine the feasibility and possible formation of a Business Improvement District (BID). Below are some frequently asked questions regarding Benicia’s exploration of a BID.
Q: What is a BID?
A: A BID is a source of funding which is used to provide special improvements and/or services within the district. It is a self-assessment levied by and upon those business owners that exist within the district.
Q: What was the result of the City Council action on April 5, 2011?
A: The City Council approved a contract with Civitas Advisors Inc., to work with business owners to determine if it is feasible to form a BID and, if so, assist with district formation. This Council action did NOT create an assessment.
Q: Who participates in the feasibility study?
A: Civitas will review Benicia’s business landscape to help identify those business types and/or locations that are most suitable for a BID. Those business owners will then offer their ideas, thoughts, wants, and suggestions to each other, and Civitas will use that feedback to build a BID.
Q: How big will the BID be? Can it be different areas?
A: This is yet to be determined. A BID can be fashioned to be in multiple areas. The size of the BID and where the BID is located will be determined during a feasibility study.
Q: What will the BID be used for?
A: That will also be determined during the feasibility study.
Q: Who is assessed, business owners or property owners?
A: It depends on the outcome of the feasibility study. The laws that govern BIDs allow for business owners or property owners to be assessed.
Q: How much will the assessment be?
A: This is yet to be determined. Who will be assessed and how much will be determined during the feasibility study.
Q: Why does the City need to hire an advisor to help with this process?
A: The effort to develop a BID’s size, scope and assessment level that meet legal requirements necessitates an expertise that City staff does not have. As this FAQ illustrates, many specifics still need to be determined and only a firm that has created BIDs is equipped to help merchants and business owners determine those specifics.
Q: Why would a business want to be part of a BID?
A: A BID is a tool for businesses to improve and enhance their economic standing; a vehicle to greater prosperity and profitability.
Q: How does a BID work?
A: A group of businesses decide to work together for a common goal that will benefit the group. The businesses set the goal they want to achieve. The businesses assess themselves a fee to achieve that goal. The businesses establish a board to manage the funds. The city assists with collecting the funds, primarily through business license fees, and holds the funds, like a trustee.
For more information contact the City Manager’s Office, Division of Economic Development, 707.746.4289, or firstname.lastname@example.org.