$6 Million Downtown Service Fee Up for Renewal in Minneapolis
The Downtown Improvement District (DID) will start pushing for a renewal of the downtown service fee Tuesday at Minneapolis City Hall. The service fee is an assessment the city of Minneapolis places on people who own business property across a 120-block area of downtown.
The DID does many things, but is best known for its "Ambassadors." Those are the men and women you see in the bright yellow shirts and dark blue pants assisting people in the downtown area.
The "Ambassador" program helps police, removes excess snow, plants flowers, cleans and sweeps the streets and costs $6-million a year.
But, there is a group of downtown business property owners pushing to kill the DID service fee. Greg Dolphin is a member of that group. He tells, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the average cost per city block that contributes to the DID service fee is $55,000.
Dolphin thinks the assessment is too much for smaller business owners to absorb and would like to see the services offered by DID to be rolled into the Police Department or the Public Works Department. Dolphin says the cost is too high, for the services provided by DID. And, Dolphin says, "I like what the DID does for downtown, but I think the cost should be spread out among all property owners and not just those who own commercial properties."
City Council member, Lisa Goodman, represents downtown and tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS "taxpayers are getting a big bang, for their buck in the Downtown Improvement District and its "Ambassador" program. Goodman says it has been a huge success and "there will be a tremendous backlash from visitors and downtown employees, if there is an effort to kill the program."
Goodman says the "Ambassadors" program provides services that go above and beyond what the city can offer and, she says, "we approve the fee because a vast majority of business property owners tell us they like the program and are willing to fund it."
If 35-percent of the assessed commercial property owners oppose the downtown service fee, it will be repealed. It has its first public hearing for renewal at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Room 317 at City Hall.