An Interactive Calculator for Business Improvement Districts

One of the reasons that the business improvement district is an increasingly popular mechanism to finance essentially public activity is its flexibility, which I discussed in late August here.  In Minnesota, State statute allows a district to assess charges to finance capital or operating activities on the basis of “a reasonable classification of the types of premises to which service is furnished, or on any other equitable basis” [emphasis added].  For business and property owners, and for local stakeholders generally, language this broad provides the material to create a structure that serves an area’s unique needs.

Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 428A spells out the terms for establishment and operation of a special service district (this state’s incarnation of the business improvement district).  Regardless of whether the most vocal advocates of a special services district are business owners, elected officials or other community leaders, they are ordinarily asked right away what will be the basis for assessing fees. 

The Donjek worksheet available here gives a user the ability to “rough out” your own special services district.  The tool allows you to choose an annual budget, select a basis for assigning fees (remember that these four alternatives are just a sample), and add information for up to twenty parcels if you choose.  Or use the data and assumptions already on the worksheet, and note how changing the basis affects the level of fees assessed.

If your community or business association is interested in exploring how a business improvement district could enhance your efforts to support retail and office activity, contact me about how this type of tool can be expanded and made even more dynamic for your key audiences.