GRAND RAPIDS — Next year, nonprofits within the Downtown Improvement District (DID) could see a reduced special assessment or no assessment at all due to amendments to Public Act 120, also known as the Shopping Areas Redevelopment Act.
Prior to the legislative changes, the act, which governs formation and operation of business improvement districts (BIDS), required that all nonprofits within a BID be included in the special assessment roll.
Just-approved amendments to House Bills 4735 and 4736 now give the city the authority and flexibility to exempt non-profits, churches and tax-exempt properties from DID special assessments or to set different assessment levels for nonprofits in the district based on their derived benefit rather than on their taxable value. The DID Board will make a recommendation to the City Commission in that regard.
The Downtown Alliance, the entity responsible for implementing services funded by the DID, proposed the amendments in cooperation with the City of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. The legislation was introduced last May.
On Sept. 25 the Senate Standing Committee on Economic Development approved amendments to both bills that incorporate the desired changes.
The Senate approved the legislation last week and the House is expected to concur this week, said Rusty Merchant, the chamber’s vice president for public policy and government affairs.
If the House approves the changes, the legislation will take effect immediately after the governor affixes his signature, Merchant said. That means the next DID assessment roll will reflect whatever change the City Commission approves, whether it be exemption or a different assessment structure for “social” nonprofits and nonprofits that actually generate income.
In the meantime, the DID Board has sought the help of local foundations to defray some of this year’s assessment costs for the district’s nonprofits. Four foundations have donated a total of $18,500 for that purpose: the Frey Foundation, $8,000; the Sebastian Foundation, $5,000; the Wege Foundation, $5,000; and the Dyer-Ives Foundation, $500.
The fund will allow partial reimbursement — about three-quarters — to eligible nonprofits in the district. To qualify, they must have tax-exempt, nonprofit status and the property involved also must be tax-exempt. Each nonprofit notified will be responsible for submitting a request for reimbursement that states the amount of reimbursement desired.
The DID Board was expected to mail reimbursement notices to eligible property owners last week.