Downtown Medford business owners and their customers will have an opportunity to weigh in on the creation of a special district that seeks to raise just over $270,000 to beautify and market the downtown core.
The City Council unanimously voted Thursday to open public comment on the proposed Economic Improvement District that would raise money over a three-year period starting in 2014.
A public hearing date will be announced at a future council meeting.
The beautification projects would include hanging flower pots in the downtown area and the purchase of decorative holiday lights. About $72,000 is expected to be spent on these projects.
The project would also include a $97,000 marketing campaign to sell the downtown area to visitors. The rest of the money would go to administrative and management costs.
The district would be funded by fees collected from about 140 businesses.
The average fee would be about $300, with some businesses, such as the U.S. National Bank of Oregon, paying $2,500.
There is a $2,500 cap on the fee structure.
The fee would be based on the gross square footage of businesses. The Heart of Medford Association has broken the district into two zones, with each seeing a different fee schedule.
One district would include businesses at the periphery of the downtown core. They would be assessed a fee of 8 cents per square foot, while businesses in the immediate downtown area would pay 11 cents per square foot.
Heart of Medford Association officials have previously said that the fees would be tax deductible.
Residential properties and parking lots would be exempt from the fee.
The special district would roughly include an area from Bear Creek on the east, Holly Street on the west, Fourth Street on the north and 10th Street on the south.
The special district was created as the Medford Urban Renewal Agency came to its conclusion. MURA was tasked with reinvigorating the downtown with facade improvements and providing parking structures. The agency spent $70 million over 25 years to revitalize the downtown.
The economic district is based on similar programs adopted in various cities throughout Oregon.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org.