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Other Taxing Issues - Downtown Warrensburg Community Improvement District

Follow-up Free Press Article
published after additional meetings

An additional meeting on the C.I.D. was held on May 16th at Heroes Restaurant. The crowd was somewhat smaller than previous meetings and was devoted primarily to questions asked by several residential property owners.

In response to a series of questions by residential property owner Maggie Henry, District supporters indicated that the district did not encompass the whole town to allow lower assessments because it was thought that those directly benefited should pay for the project. To a further question, it was explained that nothing had been done to make downtown a more attractive place to live because the city council had previously been unable to write a legal ordinance on unrelated persons and that city building codes had discouraged development of residential units in upper floors of downtown buildings.

Another residential property owner expressed a number of concerns about funding of the proposed district. She was informed that the $2 per $100 assessed valuation was similar to what other communities had set and that it provided the desired revenue figure. In recent years, the budget has been closer to $60,000 than the $100,000 to be raised by the proposed assessment. Main Street Executive Director Jeanine Rann stated her belief that entities outside the district would continue to contribute funds, thus increasing the money available, but there is no proof they would do so. The mechanics of voting on the proposal were also clarified for properties owned by multiple owners and for owners of multiple properties.

Residential property owner Herman Kock stated his concern about the effect of this large an assessment on fixed income residents, especially when the ambulance district and possible school levy increases are included. Another owner asked why she should send money to Main Street when she could not afford to upgrade her own house. District supporters indicated that a low-interest loan fund could be established for residential owners, drawing the response that people should be responsible for their own property. The mechanics of establishing a fund were discussed, as well as who would decide the recipients. Main Street director Rann indicated they were gathering information on the best way to set up the board to get wider representation and that this method would be included in the petition to establish the district. Currently, new Main Street board members are selected by the existing board.

Other property owners were concerned about the lack of publicity for meetings and that it is not clear what Main Street wants to do from a public relations standpoint. District supporters pointed out that the initial purpose of the meetings was to come up with specific ideas and to put people on committees, but instead they’ve had to defend themselves from what was termed “misinformation.” Some better means of putting out information on meetings was discussed.

Attendees were asked for their thoughts on priorities for use of the funds if the district is approved. Among the ideas discussed were downtown business recruitment, more parking, continue the remaining phases of the streetscape and utility upgrade, developing a revolving fund program for residential owners, pursuit of historic district designation, maintaining storefront appearance, setting aside seed money for new projects, and encouraging conversion of upper floors to residential space.

Residential property owner Casey Renfrow asked about liaison with the City Council and volunteered to fill that role. Individuals also agreed to research if other taxes could be used instead of a property assessment and the possibility of charging different assessments for business, rental and owner-occupied residential property. Main Street Executive Director Jeanine Rann reported that assessments generally are tax deductible for income-producing property but not for owner-occupied residences.

The next meeting was set for Thursday, May 23 at 5:00 PM.

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