BID board has many decisions to make

By Jeff Smith

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Business Improvement District (BID) Board members might have been relieved that the city council approved their project with little to no pushback. The Jan. 11 meeting was originally set up as a way to make clear any problems that anybody had with the project.

There are still questions that need to be answered and the project is anything but finalized. One of the questions is what is going to happen with some of the activity space the Boys & Girls Club uses.

Connie Prautzsch came to the BID Board meeting asking what would happen when the fenced tennis court is taken away and if the racquetball court area was going to be fenced in.

BID Board member Doug Peters said there needs to be a replacement place where the Boys & Girls Club can go to have the same activity happen.

Prautzsch said that there should be an area that is fenced and surfaced that they could use.

“It got talked about several times — replacing the current use of the spots,” Peters said.

Children who ride bikes in the summer are the biggest user of the tennis court area.

There was a general consensus that the problem will be addressed later.

As people who have followed the news of the BID Board project know there are going to be improvements to the Hill City Senior Center which will include public bathrooms, the alley behind the Senior Center and tennis court area will be asphalted and a 10-ft. walkway will be created between the Mangy Moose and Blazing Saddles.

Brett McMacken, city administrator, said that they have created a conceptual idea of what they want to do, how to pay for it, where it would take place and how to fund it.

“According to state law you have done your due diligence in that respect,” McMacken said.

“There is a second bite at  the apple so to speak. We need to bring the project back to this group and flesh out more of the details.”

This will happen after the public hearing at the city council meeting.

At the official hearing date more questions will be answered. The hearing is set for Feb. 26. People will be able to present their testimony and questions at that hearing.

Hotels will be able to exercise their authority. If there is a majority of them in opposition to it through written objection it can derail the project.

The city council might make a decision on Feb. 26 or they can carry discussion to another meeting. The goal for the council would be to adopt an ordinance.

“I’ll have to create an ordinance which is  similar to what has been created just a slightly different format,” McMacken said.

Right now, the plan is to tax lodging establishments with 11 rooms or more. The guests who stay longer than 30 days won’t be taxed.

There is also a separate hearing to talk about the taxing process which will happen. Board member Buzz Grover said it might be a good idea to go to hearings should the project be considered for being knocked out.

Six different properties will be paying the occupancy tax.

The BID Board will have to decide if they want to collect the tax quarterly or every month. The finance department of the City of Hill City will be collecting the tax.

They will also need to figure out how to address issue of room reservations when the price rate of the room was already booked ahead of time.

“Are we ok with adding $2 for everybody after a certain date?” McMacken asked.

There is also the issue of businesses not wanting to charge people more who pay ahead of time. It was decided that everybody will have to pay for the tax regardless if they paid ahead of time or not until after a certain date. The start date for the collection of the tax will be decided later too.

Pre-paid rooms could be an issue because people won’t like paying for something they already reserved ahead of time.

Vic Alexander also brought up if the occupancy tax would be based on seasonality. In the summer there are rooms that could cost hundreds and a $2 fee wouldn’t make much of a difference but in the winter the $2 fee could be seen differently. May 1 to the beginning of October might be a better way to go.

The BID Board can look at another project but there is still some value in the group still being a part of it to the completion phase.

BID Board member Doug Peters said nobody on the board sees their work as being done.

If there was another business that was zoned in the C-3 category that would be built that has 11 rooms or more it would be required to have the occupancy tax.

McMacken took into consideration Vic Alexander’s proposal of the city self-funding the project and then they would be paid back with the occupancy tax.

There was also a change in the taxable district. The resolution created  a Business Improvement District that encompasses the taxable hotels and properties where the improvement will take place. This also includes the city right-of-way, Blazing Saddles and mangy Moose Saloon. Twelve letters of notification will go out about the hearing.

Instead of just a revenue bond being the funding mechanism the resolution states that it is funded by revenue bond and/or self-funded by the Hill City’s resources.

McMacken said the city has an emergency fund which is essentially a pool of unallocated funds that are held on to in case the city’s economic engine disappears.

There is the question of whether or not the city would want to allocate $400,000 of those funds to the project.

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