West Allis - A taxing district aimed at maintaining and growing downtown West Allis’ commercial corridor has in place an increased operating budget, levy and property assessment plan for next year.
The Downtown West Allis Business Improvement District primarily serves businesses along Greenfield Avenue, between 70th and 76th streets. A few properties north and south of 70th Street are included in the BID’s boundaries.
According to recently released documents, the local BID’s annual operating budget is increasing by $27,650 next year, from $99,550 to $127,200.
The BID’s total levy, which appears as an additional line item on impacted property owners’ tax bills, is rising from $99,550 to $101,767. An anticipated $25,432 surplus in this year’s operating budget is carrying over to next year and stemming what could have been a more sizable levy increase.
The BID’s assessment rate also is expected to rise next year — a reflection of increased valuation within the corridor. The entity next year plans to base its tax on a rate of $5.46 per $1,000 of assessed value. This year’s rate is $5.37 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Dianne Eineichner, executive director of the Downtown West Allis BID, has worked with several city officials — including Steve Schaer, planning and zoning manager — as next year’s budget was created. Although it has a quasi-independent structure, the BID is closely intertwined with city governance.
“Keeping the downtown clean and beautiful is a big part of what the BID does for the city,” Schaer said at a common council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Downtown West Allis BID’s annual budget, levy and assessment plan is not minted until elected officials sign off on the document. The council at its most recent meeting unanimously approved all components of next year’s plan.
“They do a really, really nice job for the city,” Alderwoman Rosalie Reinke said of the BID, pointing out the various events that are designed to make the downtown corridor a destination within the city.
A sampling of the BID’s community events includes participation in the city’s Memorial Day celebration, the West Allis Ala Carte street festival in June, Summer Music in the Park outdoor concerts from June through August and the classic car show in October.
Proceeds from the property owners’ tax dollars fall into one of several buckets within the BID’s operating budget, including marketing, a design committee that handles such tasks as beautification efforts and assistance programs for shopkeepers perched along the corridor.
The Downtown West Allis BID encompasses 62 buildings and includes upward of 500 off-street parking stalls. In discussing the entity’s budget and future plans to the council, Schaer said the corridor is increasingly being marketed as a family-oriented spot, with the mix of retailers, restaurants and services serving as the backdrop.
Schaer said the BID has made overtures in recent years to enhance the mix of retail and work toward bringing all space to productive use. The corridor, he said, currently has a 4-percent vacancy rate, which is a decrease from prior years.
“We attribute (the vacancy rate) to what the BID does in retaining existing businesses and attracting new ones,” Schaer said.
The Downtown West Allis BID has a number of goals in progress or on the horizon, including a loan program aimed at giving property owners an incentive to improve their buildings. Also in the works is a possible incubator program for small, emerging businesses.
Prior to approving the BID’s 2017 budget, levy and assessment rate at last week’s meeting, the council held a public hearing. No one spoke for or against the plan.