GLOVERSVILLE – A business owner within the Business Improvement District is circulating a petition asking for support to dissolve the BID.
Susan Casey, owner of the Beacon Wearhouse and nine other properties within the district, in the first week of January sent about 50 letters to fellow property owners in the district polling them if the BID is wanted and really needed.
“Times are hard and I shouldn’t have to pay tax for something that isn’t necessary,” Casey said. “I want to pay my city taxes and let the city do what they have to do and let me do what I need to do. I don’t want to pay my money to fix somebody else’s building.”
Property owners within the BID district pay an additional 15 percent in city tax that goes to the BID to improve the downtown area.
Casey said between the 10 properties she owns within the district, she pays about $2,250 a year to the BID. Casey said she believes businesses would better be served if they had control of their own money.
Casey alleges the formation of the BID was improper because in 2000, when the BID was being approved, a letter went out to all property owners within the district providing them with the details about the BID. The letter also served as the ballot to approve the district.
“If we don’t hear from you, we’ll assume you [do] not object to the establishment of a Business Improvement District in downtown Gloversville,” the letter said.
Casey said she and others within the district didn’t pay much attention to the letter and never responded, leaving “only about five people who voted- four in favor, one opposed.”
Since no other owners formally submitted a vote, she said, the BID received the 51 percent approval needed to be established.
“That is like getting a letter from the government saying if you don’t return this letter your taxes are going up tenfold. It doesn’t make sense,” Casey said.
“I wanted to do this before and people told me to get involved, so I joined the [BID] board,” Casey said. “For a while a couple of things looked like they were going to get done but never did. I got disenchanted.”
Casey said as a business owner, she is supposed to clean her sidewalk and 18 inches into the street. That type of work should not be paid for by BID money.
“That is my responsibility as a property owner,” Casey said. “Why hire someone [to clean sidewalks] for $1,500? I don’t want to pay to clean [someone else’s] sidewalk.”
Casey said the BID shouldn’t pay for individual property owner’s expenses because the money is meant to improve the district as a whole. For example, the BID awarded SkyHeart Studio $1,000 to buy new curtains for the venue. Casey said she feels that shouldn’t be acceptable.
“That is tax money and I need new carpets upstairs; are they going to pay for me to get that?” Casey asked. “What am I getting for my $2,250? I could use it to increase my inventory or pay my regular taxes with it because that is a lot of money.”
Casey said Tuesday she has about 25 responses to her petition. She said only three of those were in favor of keeping the BID. Casey said she is trying to get the required 51 percent of property owners to agree to dissolve the organization.
“For her to come back and say, after it has been operating 10-plus years, that it is illegal is unfortunate because we have done a lot of good things,” former Chamber of Commerce President and former BID Secretary Wally Hart said. “She may not agree with something that is being done currently or over time, but she is one person and there has been a lot of good things the BID has done over time.”
Newly-elected President of the BID Board of Directors Karen Smith said if the petition reaches the Common Council, she plans to get involved to ensure the BID remains active.
Mayor Dayton King said he believes the BID should put the decision to continue or dissolve up to a vote among its members.
“Someone like Susan Casey certainly spends an awful lot of money downtown and does a great job with her buildings, and I understand if she wants to do the work herself,” King said. “I think what the BID should do is vote on that, and if they agree as a group they can certainly dissolve it.”