The BID: An explainer

·3 min read

Sep. 4—Norman's proposed business improvement district has multiple requirements for formation, maintenance and potential termination.

In Oklahoma, a business improvement district is an area in which property owners pay an assessment that can then be used for projects within the district.

In Norman, the proposed BID includes virtually all of the city's downtown — Main Street, Gray Street, and select properties on Eufaula and Comanche streets, Porter, Crawford, Peters, Webster and Santa Fe avenues, and University Boulevard.

Proponents for the district have argued it will pay for projects that will provide for services including upkeep, cleanliness and traffic flow. But others say it will strain property owners financially.

The Transcript has corroborated how the district would be created, funded and managed, and how it could potentially end.

How it's created

BID proponents must obtain signatures from "majority of the resident owners of record of property liable for assessment under the proposal" or "the resident owners of record of more than one-half of the area liable for assessment under the proposal" for its creation, according to state law.

As of last Sunday, 36 property owners were in favor of the business improvement district, while 49 were opposed. Forty-six had not voiced opposition or support, according to city records.

If the city of Norman and Cleveland County were to support the BID, their land would bring to roughly 56% the percentage of property in favor, estimates Cameron Brewer, chair of the BID formation committee. Combined, the two public entities have 18.84% of the land in the district, according to the city clerk's office.

As many as 42 property owners, which account for more than 33% of the area's BID percentage, have filed protest letters with the city.

How it's funded

Property owners in the BID pay an assessment based on the area and the county's assessed value.

According to policy, the district may not increase its budget by more than 10% year over year. County assessors may not increase property taxes by more than 5% each year, according to state law. The assessment goes toward improvements in the district. Money from the assessment can also be used for large projects, although Brewer said that is not his intention.

How it's managed

If the BID goes into effect, stakeholders in the district oversee it, but the city would still ultimately be in charge.

According to the city BID plan, the BID association — at least 51% of which will be business owners in the district — may use the district for uses of streets or sidewalks. However, projects must remain within city code.

"The BID Association will be another layer of approval and coordination prior to the city's consideration of such requests," city attorney Kathryn Walker said in an email.

How it ends

City council may terminate the district at any time. It may also end if more than half of all land owners — who also represent a majority of the land in the district — decide to end it.

The BID would cease at the end of the fiscal year if the council voted to end it, or when the city verified the property owners' petition, as long as the district didn't have any outstanding financial obligations.