Downtown property owners balk at tax plan

By Jayson Jacoby, The Baker City Herald

For the first time since Baker City's downtown Economic Improvement District (EID) was started in the early 1990s, enough property owners are opposed to a special property tax assessment that the city can't continue to collect that money and pass it on to Historic Baker City Inc.

Not, that is, unless some of those property owners change their minds before the City Council has a public hearing Tuesday evening.

Under EID rules, the city can charge the property tax assessment unless the owners of at least 33 percent of the total property value in the district don't object.

The current EID expired at the end of 2013.

When the city surveyed property owners, objections totaled 34.74 percent of the total assessed value.

The property tax assessment raises about half of the EID's annual revenue of approximately $42,000.

The City Council could decide to continue the EID, but the only potential revenue source would be the annual business license fee. That fee is $150 for businesses inside the historic district, and $125 for businesses that are outside the historic district but within the EID boundaries.

About 18 percent of business owners in the EID objected to continuing the EID. As with the tax assessments, at least 33 percent of businesses must object to prevent the license fee from being imposed.

The EID public hearing is part of a lengthy agenda for the City Council when it convenes Tuesday for the first time in 2014.

The evening gets under way 90 minutes earlier than usual, with a 5:30 p.m. work session at City Hall, 1655 First St.

The topic is the effort to write a strategic plan for the city.

Last year the city received a grant from the Ford Family Foundation for the project. PARC Resources has written a draft strategic plan, which is available on the city's website,

The Council's regular meeting starts at 7 p.m., also in council chambers at City Hall.

The agenda includes:

andbull; Decide whether to begin negotiating with JW Fowler Co. for building a permanent ultraviolet light water treatment plant.

A committee comprising city officials recommended JW Fowler among three companies that bid for the job.

andbull; Review the financial audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013.

andbull; Hear an update from the Golf Board and from Bill Tiedemann, the city's new manager for the 18-hole, city-owned Quail Ridge Golf Course.

andbull; Hear an update on the Baker City Bandstand Pavilion project.

andbull; Hear on update on the Baker County Family YMCA.

andbull; Final reading of an ordinance banning smoking in city parks and along the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway.

andbull; Authorize purchase of a police department vehicle.

The Baker City Herald
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