Four months after making an initial presentation to the Farmingdale Village Board about a proposed Business Improvement District (BID), the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce is ready to bring the idea to the public.
A series of public meetings about the proposed BID for Farmingdale has been planned by the chamber's BID Steering Committee. During them, the committee plans to present to the public proposed BID boundaries, annual budget, BID assessment and BID programs.
While the presentation to the village was the first step in a series of requirements for creating a BID under state law, the public meetings are the second one. Throughout the past four months, the steering committee has been hard at work preparing for it, according to MaryAnn Paras, president of the chamber and chairperson of the committee. "We were meeting on a weekly basis to try to fine tune the presentation," she said Tuesday. During that time the committee also researched six other BIDs that have been established on Long Island.
The proposed BID would encompass both sides of Main Street from Melville Road to Fulton Street and Conklin Street from Secatogue Avenue to the intersection of Fulton and Conklin. In accordance with state law, it would be a mechanism by which a budget is generated to finance services to enhance the district.
The approximately $62,000 proposed budget would primarily fund the marketing, promotion and advertising of Farmingdale's downtown retail district, an effort which would receive a total of about $40,000. "It seems to be what most people are concerned about - how do we bring people to Farmingdale? And so that is the focal point of the BID," said Paras.
Maintenance and sanitation services to supplement those of the village, as well as administration fees would be covered by the rest of the budget.
The budget would come from charging all property owners within the district a fee that is relative to their property's assessed value. Therefore, the steering committee has encouraged all residents, business, and property owners within the proposed district to attend the public meetings.
The Village of Farmingdale would collect these monies for the BID, and they would be spent entirely by the BID - not the village.
Although, from the real estate owner's perspective, the assessment is much like an additional property tax, Paras stressed that it is not a tax. This, she said, is because the budget will be spent entirely by the BID for specific services. "The village is not getting this money. They are not authorized to spend it," she said. "They are just a method of collection." She added that the services of the BID would enhance the physical improvements already made by the village, such as new lighting and sidewalks (these were funded by grant money), and would help bring down the village's vacancy rate.
The 12 member BID Steering Committee is composed of representatives from each type of property within the district, which consists of 140 taxable properties. Seventy-three of these would pay under $300, and 94 would pay under $500. In contrast, three properties would generate over $1,500 for the BID budget.
The proposed budget is subject to modification, according to Paras, and public comments made at the hearings will be considered in its final formulation. The village is also expected to hold hearings on the matter, because, in accordance with state law, the formation of a BID requires the passage of a new local law authorizing it.
Paras anticipates that a vote on the BID by property owners within the district will take place before June. The vote on the creation of a BID is different from the election of local officials or school budgets in the following way:
In order for the BID not to pass, at least 51 percent of the property owners in the district must vote against it. In other words, if no one shows up at the polls, the BID would pass.
The budget for the BID would have to be approved by voters annually, Paras noted.
The upcoming public meetings will take place at St. Thomas Church at 298 Conklin Street in Farmingdale on the following dates: Wednesday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 28 at 12:30 p.m., and Wednesday, April 29 at 7 p.m.