Originally Posted Online: Oct. 08, 2012, 7:22 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 08, 2012, 10:17 pm
Hearing on Olde Towne Special Service Area set for Tuesday
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By Dawn Neuses, email@example.com
A Moline property owner is questioning the establishment of a Special Service Area in Moline's Olde Towne.
The Moline City Council is holding a 6:30 p.m. public hearing Tuesday about the proposed SSA in the council chambers on the second floor of city hall, 619 16th St.
In an SSA, property owners pay additional property tax that can be spent only within the district boundaries. The proposed Olde Towne SSA would encompass 7th Street from 12th to 19th avenues and 18th Avenue from 7th to 10th streets.
If established, Olde Towne property owners within the SSA would pay 75 cents more per $100 of assessed value starting Jan. 1.
Kathleen Jourdan, owner of Columbia Decorating, 1715 9th St., said she commends anyone who makes an effort to improve an area. But she said the money would be spent on 7th Street, with everyone in the district subsidizing improvements to those businesses.
"I am just not pleased with the process going on," she said. "It is very unfair.
"It is not only the money, it is the way the city is going at this," she said. "There is no plan, and that is a totally irresponsible way to use funds from other people, to collect money with no idea how to spend it or what the benefits would be."
If the SSA is established, a board of local property and business owners would be formed and recommend how to spend the money, said Rebecca Gall, Moline's historic preservation specialist. She said property and business owners were invited to seven meetings the past year on the future of Olde Towne, noting a report created after one session -- focusing on the challenges, treasures and visions for the area -- would guide the SSA board.
Improvements would be made to the entire district and benefit the entire boundary, she said.
"If you look at the downtown SSA, things happened in phases with the finances available in a given year," Ms. Gall said. "However, the plan includes the entire SSA boundary."
Money from the downtown SSA has funded streetscaping 5th Avenue after its reconstruction, promotions, a summer concert series and upkeep within the district, such as summer plantings and a litter service.
Last month, Ms. Gall said the total levy for the proposed Olde Towne SSA is expected to be $43,555. The average single-family property owner would pay about $236 more in property tax annually; the average commercial property owner would pay $643 more annually.
Ms. Jourdan said even $50 more a month in property taxes can be a hit to smaller businesses. She said property owners and tenants within the proposed SSA oppose it, with about 30 people signing a petition against it.
State statute requires 51 percent of property owners who are registered voters and 51 percent of registered voters living within the district to state opposition against a proposed SSA or it can be formed by city council action.
Ms. Gall said she knows there is a lot of interest and desire to see change in Olde Towne.
"People feel strongly about it, and, certainly, we want to take into consideration all views, to hear from all property owners," she said. "That is why this public hearing is very important."