The Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District (BID) has been in existence since 2004 with a term limit of five years.
The BID was reauthorized in 2009 with minimal effort and without controversy. This was due in large part to the agreement of the property owners who comprise the BID membership that useful services were being provided to the properties along Germantown Ave. from Rex Ave. to Cresheim Valley Drive. George Woodward Co. has supported the BID for ten years and paid our assessments in a timely manner for the properties we own along Germantown Avenue.
The reauthorization for this term is a different matter. Acting leadership of the BID has determined that the boundaries must be expanded to include unit block properties. They have determined that a 10- year term is required to secure a loan for special projects that have yet to be determined that will be repaid from the assessments.
The introduction of Bill #130955 was not done by a consensus of the membership and 10 years is a long time to wait to hold the BID accountable for it’s actions.
The new boundaries will add 98 properties to the BID. Two-thirds of those properties are residential rental homes. The BID plans to use the new budget of $320,000 (increased by $80,000 due to the new assessments) to continue to provide services along Germantown Ave. as follows:
• $85,000 – Physical Appearance: cleaning by a full-time maintenance employee, holiday lights, barrels & flower baskets.
• $47,000 – Parking, Safety & Security: improvement of pedestrian crosswalks, repair of Belgian blocks, security cameras and maintaining Chestnut Hill Parking Foundation parking lots – if needed.
• $75,000 – Administration: office personnel
• $113,000 – Strengthen Local Economy: to encourage a positive experience for visitors and shoppers, marketing program, festivals, branding, media exposure, retail recruitment, projects with neighboring communities and local institutions to promote the Germantown Avenue corridor.
These are the budget categories as described in Bill #130955 that clearly concentrate on businesses along the Germantown Ave. corridor.
Our question is why expand the BID boundaries and target residential rental homes as a subsidy for businesses along Germantown Ave.? This is an imposed tax that was not reached by a consensus of the affected new property owners. The bill was submitted prior to the knowledge of property owners in the new expanded area.
Therefore we are opposed to the expansion that is a forced new tax. We are opposed to a 10 year term. A five year term will hold the BID more accountable to its membership.
The BID should be reauthorized by a thoughtful and planned process that is inclusive of the members of the Chestnut Hill community, especially the property owners that will be assessed a new tax as part of an expansion.
Please add your support to our effort to defeat Bill#130955 by writing Councilwoman Cindy Bass to voice your opposition.
Barbara J. Baumbach
Vice-President of Administration
George Woodward Co.