The members of the District 20 state delegation in Silver Spring have sent a letter to the County Council asking for its support for proposed changes to the state law allowing the establishment of Business Improvement Districts in the county.
In the letter, Sen. William Smith, along with Dels. Lorig Charkoudian, David Moon and Jheanelle Wilkins, express “significant concerns over several provisions of the BID structure and governance. As a result of these issues, we believe the voices of small-and-minority-owned businesses in Downtown Silver Spring – the economic engine of the community – are diminished.”
The council passed the legislation in July. It is intended to provide marketing and promotions for all the businesses within the current Silver Spring Urban District, as well as additional support for the district and the Regional Service Center.
The next month, County Executive Marc Elrich vetoed the law, and the council promptly announced its intention to override the veto.
The delegation’s concerns are primarily focused on what they see as a lack of participation from tenant small business owners in both approving the effort to pass the law as well as voting on the BID’s proposed board of directors.
The delegation intends to introduce changes to the state BID requirements in the next legislative session, which will begin in January. Those changes would include, quoting from the letter:
- Increasing the Board membership from a maximum of 9, to a minimum of 15 with no maximum in the state statute
- Removing the statutory definition of BID membership, which is currently defined as owners of nonexempt property
- Requiring that Board membership include representation of property owners, small businesses, businesses of various sizes, and others as determined by local law. This provision would also require that the local law establish a process for each group to elect their own representatives.
- Increasing the threshold for forming or expanding a BID from 51% to 65% of property parcels and property value
- Adding a requirement that 65% of tenant businesses also must express intent to establish a BID, and
- Require notification of the proposal to all businesses and property owners in the proposed BID area provided by a neutral party, before the process begins.
Silver Spring BID graphic