The new Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) Board hit the ground running at its first meeting on Wednesday, moving to start the process of hiring a BID manager.
The panel, meeting at the River City Company offices, also hired River City as staff (at $1 per year), hired a consulting firm familiar with starting BIDs at up to $25,000 (Progressive Urban Management), and talked of hiring a vendor that would oversee an Ambassador program for "cleaning and making safe" the BID District.
Steve Hunt was chosen as board chairman. Kelly Fitzgerald as vice chairman, Gordon Stalans as treasurer and Charles Perry as secretary.
A committee to seek a BID manager includes Travis Lytle, Lisa Maragnano and Mr. Stalans.
The 15-member board was told that funds will begin to come in since assessments to downtown property owners within the district have gone out. The city treasurer will remit collections at the 15th of each month. The deadline to pay is the end of February. The assessments will total about $1 million.
Kim White, River City president, said some $200,000 was raised privately to help get the process started.
She said the BID was initiated by downtown property owners who came to River City and said they wanted higher services than that provided by the city.
Ms. White said the BID process began in July of last year.
The panel decided that there will be a time for public comment at the end of each meeting and speakers will be given three minutes, following the pattern of the City Council.
The meetings will be on the third Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m. at River City offices at Miller Plaza. The sessions are open to the public and come under the Sunshine Law.
Senator Todd Gardenhire told the group he did not want to be on the board and will try to get off of it as soon as the Legislature resumes.
He warned of allowing entities within the district to be able to opt out. Officials said River City, the Aquarium and the Creative Discovery Museum have no plans to seek an exemption. It was stated that management at Unum asked that its headquarters property be left out.
Pierre Dabit of Giorgio's said he felt using River City as staff appeared to be a "conflict of interest." He said he had initially opposed the idea of the BID.
Board members will have three-year terms and can have two terms.
Salary for the BID manager was listed at $87,000 counting salary and benefits.
The board also hired Rachael Ruiz of Miller and Martin as legal counsel. She has been working on the BID issue for a year and a half and said she feels she knows more about BIDs than anyone in the state of Tennessee. She said her fee is $250 per hour, but there will be a non-profit discount.
The local BID is set up as non-profit.