It's official: Waukesha downtown BID will be terminated

Published on: 4/8/2013

The downtown Business Improvement District is officially no more.

Community Development Director Steve Crandell confirmed Monday that more than the required 50 percent of the property base value that represents the downtown district remained on the petition to have the taxing district disbanded.

In total, Crandell said 100 of the 154 properties were included on the petition, which totaled about $31.6 million, 59 percent of the value. 

The BID's 2013 base value is about $52.9 million.

A petition was filed in February to have the BID disbanded after property owners did not like how the new BID Board would be using its tax.

Crandell said staff will meet to develop a timeframe for the required audit of the BID and to discuss and develop a recommendation for the disbursement of any BID funds or assets.

The termination of the downtown BID marks the end of the ongoing saga that started when its former executive director resigned late last summer due to a "hostile work environment."

Eleven of the 13 board members followed suit shortly thereafter and the Common Council and Mayor Jeff Scrima struggled to put a new board together during the fall.

After an eight-person board was finally constructed, the BID Board presented new bylaws and an operating plan where more of the property owners' tax would go to other organization's events for downtown.

Since property owners didn't like that the BID was now being used as a grantor organization, a petition to disband the BID was started among downtown property owners.

There was a public hearing last month and after that individuals had 30 days to either add or take their names off the petition.

After that meeting, the BID Board reconvened a few weeks ago in an attempt to save the BID and rework its operating plan/bylaws.

But it wasn't enough as Friday was the last day property owners could take their names off the petition or add to it.

City Administrator Ed Henschel said officials with The Clarke Hotel, which represents almost $5 million in assessed property value, took their name off the petition. 

Henschel said others also added their names to the petition during this time. 

Waukesha's BID, started in 1985, was the longest running BID in the state.

The BID, with an executive director at the helm, was responsible for business recruitment and retention, raising money for downtown, helping beautify the area and putting on events.