Skip to main content

Making a BID for downtown enhancements, public hearing in November

By Joanne Beck
downtown batavia
File Photo of Downtown Batavia by Howard Owens

Batavia’s downtown Business Improvement District members would like to spend some of their more than $220,000 capital account to enhance the downtown area, and because that will take a city amendment to do so, a public hearing is necessary.

The BID’s current agreement with the city requires the amendment to “add language for improvements in the district that will be allowable under their capital account,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said. Tabelski explained the need for the amendment and set a public hearing during this week’s council meeting.

“The BID has requested that we update a very specific portion of the plan in relation to the capital infrastructure fund. They currently have $222,000 designated to be used for projects. And they asked to amend the list we had previously to include capital purchases, enhancements in the district of decorations, banners, planters, light poles and accessories, signs, wayfinding, decorative trash bins and potential sidewalk improvements,” Tabelski said. “So they'd like the ability to do these types of projects within the plan and to spend this funding on those projects. So by modifying the plan, you'd give permission for them to undertake these types of activities with this funding. This is a local law change. So it will need to go through the public hearing process.” 

The BID currently has $222,470.50 in its capital account and has requested to make multiple purchases to enhance the district.

Because a substantial portion of the Management Association’s activities are funded by a special assessment levied by the city and its activities are important to the economic health and vitality of the city, it is necessary that the business of the Management Association be performed in an open and public manner, according to city code. 

This provides for the residents and businesses in the community to be fully aware of and able to observe the activities of the Management Association Board of Directors, as well as attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of BID policy. 

In addition, providing access to meeting minutes allows residents and businesses to observe the decision-making process by the Board and to review the documents leading to those determinations.

Tabelski recommended that the same Local Law No. 3 be amended for the BID plan to include these latest requested improvements and to also include a related public hearing.

That hearing will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 27 in Council Chambers at City Hall.

The Batavian contacted BID President Derek Geib for comment since the matter was going to be part of a public hearing. He did not want to provide comment and instead referred The Batavian to BID Executive Director Shannon Maute, who also did not want to offer a comment.

A little background about the BID may be in order. A local law was adopted on Nov. 24, 1997, outlined in Chapter 58 of the city’s code, to establish the district, which is comprised of several streets from Liberty Street west to Court Street and Ellicott Street north to Washington Avenue. 

The local law was amended on June 27, 2005, to include the Ellicott Street business area. It was later further amended on Aug. 6, 2016, and again on March 12, 2018, all of which required public hearings due to the properties within the district being in the public’s interest. 

Under General Municipal Law 980-a ... the Batavia City Council requires that the Management Association Board of Directors comply, conform and abide by the State of New York Open Meetings and Public Information laws. This will apply to all Management Association and sub-committee meetings, including executive committee meetings. The Management Association will further post all by-laws, board and committee meeting minutes, annual budgets, audited financial statements and annual reports on the Management Association’s website for public viewing.

The Batavian contacted Tabelski about this requirement, since the BID has not had an active website for several months. The Batavian asked where the reports were being posted and who was responsible for ensuring that they were being posted as mandated by municipal law. 

Tabelski did not directly respond to those questions, however, she said that the website was discussed during BID’s meeting on Tuesday and that it was being redeveloped and “should relaunch soon.” 

There are two sources for funding the activities of the BID, according to related city documents: the BID assessment and the City of Batavia. The BID assessment for each property is calculated by multiplying the assessed valuation of the property by the BID assessment rate, which was $1.81 per $1,000 of assessed value as of Jan. 18, 2021. 

Authentically Local