The Fremont City Council further discussed and had a public hearing for the potential continuation of the Downtown Business Improvement District at its meeting Tuesday.
The BID, a board consisting of local business owners, plans various projects and improvements for downtown Fremont. It was created with a five-year agreement in 2016 and works in collaboration with MainStreet of Fremont.
“It’s been five years, they’re still learning, they’re still doing some great things downtown,” Fremont City Administrator Brian Newton said. “And I think this opportunity to extend this another five years by partnering with MainStreet is even better and will make them even stronger as an organization to help downtown.”
The new five-year agreement would raise BID’s annual budget from about $48,000 to $66,000, which Chairman Tom Coday said was to hire a part-time director position with MainStreet.
“We’re all busy people trying to run businesses, and we don’t have time to accomplish some of our goals without having somebody to follow up on the details,” he said. “In order to do large projects, we need different partners.”
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Coday said BID has also collaborated with the Fremont and Dodge County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city on projects like the downtown Christmas decorations.
“I think that that’s one of our biggest accomplishments in the last five years, is the increase in cooperation and partnership with other groups in the BID district,” he said.
Coday also said the budget is reset each August as downtown property owners pay .2% of their buildings’ property values, which are updated every year.
Bob Missel, a previous member of BID and owner of Sampter’s, said he believes the board’s benefits outweighed the costs.
“The efforts that they’re doing I believe enhance the value of my property, so whether I’m a retailer or an attorney or a banker, if I’m the property owner in that district, I think we all benefit,” he said.
However, Pam Hopkins, owner of Hopkins Law Office between Main and D streets, said she was concerned about the annual changes to the budget.
“It appears that the Business Improvement District can come up with whatever budget it wants, present it here to the city council, that you guys will probably approve it, and then those of us who are in the district will simply be allocated those assessments,” she said.
Hopkins said she also didn’t see any of the improvements made by the BID and said her business was not improved by increased foot traffic like others were.
“I think that the Business Improvement District is overly broad in its geographical layout because numerous businesses are included in that taxing or assessment district that do not benefit from foot traffic or improved downtown business,” she said.
Daniel Cech, an employee at Petersen Body Shop at Third and D streets, said he and other businesses on D Street also hadn’t seen any of the BID improvements.
“Where is the focus outside of Main Street?” he said. “I see that there has been some stuff down on Park Street and Main, but if this BID is supposed to be for the entirety of downtown, there’s businesses that they have excluded.”
BID member Howard Krasne said he believed it was important for the district and community to continue the board’s work and said businesses that didn’t see the changes still were positively impacted.
“If people look at their property values of five years ago and they look at their property values now, they’ll see a significant difference, and I think that speaks for some of what we’ve accomplished as a BID,” he said.
Councilmember Brad Yerger said although he approved the concept of a BID for downtown redevelopment and revitalization, he wanted to see a better plan from the board.
“In order to do so, as a councilmember, I feel we ought to be being presented and be able to see some sort of preparation and articulation of strategic vision with regard to a short- and long-range plan to achieve goals,” he said.
Yerger also expressed concern at the new ordinance not being in compliance with city code, which Councilmember Glen Ellis agreed with, saying that there were no line item changes and needed to be modified.
“There’s a lot of mistakes,” he said. “I’m not sure where this came from, but this is not the format of an ordinance that we normally vote on.”
A motion to continue the second reading failed 3-5, while an amendment to require BID to provide further discussion and presentation to justify the budget increased failed 2-6. The second reading passed 6-2.
The council also unanimously approved Mayor Joey Spellerberg’s appointment of Jesse Headid as sergeant for the Fremont Police Department.
Headid received his badge during a pinning ceremony by his father, John. John Headid served FPD from 1996 to 2015 and was named a sergeant in 2010.
“Now tonight, John’s son Jesse has been promoted to sergeant, and what a family tradition in Fremont law enforcement,” Spellerberg said.
The council also had first reading for an amendment to the Unified Development Code regarding floodway overlay and flood fringe overlay districts.
Planning Director Jennifer Dam said the Community Rating System evaluates the city for floodplain insurance and building codes that helps reduce its premiums for flood insurance.
“When it was currently reviewed this last spring, the individual (with Community Rating System) wanted a few tweaks to the language,” she said.
The requested changes, which were approved by the state, included tweaking language to the same meaning and specifying new dates for flood insurance rate maps.
First reading was also held for a sale of Technology Park land to Boulevard Boys Properties, which Brian Newton said was moved further north than its intended location.
“We’d like to make a pretty decent commitment to the community and put up a decent-sized, probably 10,000-square-foot building just to try to get everything under one roof,” co-owner Tyler Thomas said.
In other news, the council approved the installation of a conveyor system on a power plant unit, upgrades to the propane plant and purchasing coal from Navajo Transitional Energy Company for 2022 and 2023.