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More than two months after the controversial Business Improvement District was approved by the City Council, members of its board and details of its first meeting were announced Monday. 

The board — which will oversee the special district intended to provide visual and safety improvements to Central Chattanooga through the roughly $1 million collected in special assessment fees from property owners annually — consists of 15 members: 12 property owners and tenants and three state and local officials required by statute.

Members are listed below along with the property they represent, owner/tenant status, commercial/residential/non-profit status, and location within the district:

— Pierre Dabit - Giorgio's - Commercial tenant and small property owner South of 4th Street

— Kelly Fitzgerald - Society of Work - Commercial tenant South of 4th Street

— Steve Hunt - Berry & Hunt - Large property owner, commercial South of 4th Street

— Walter Johnson - Plaza Foods - Commercial tenant North of 4th Street

— Travis Lytle - SmartBank- Small property owner, commercial South of 4th Street

— Donald O'Connor - River Pier Landing - Residential owner North of 4th Street

— Lisa Maragnano - CARTA - Large property owner, non-profit and commercial North of 4th Street

— Matt McGauley - Fidelity Trust Company - Small property owner, commercial South of 4th Street

— Charles Perry - Loveman's - Residential owner South of 4th Street

— Darian Scott - Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce - Small property owner, non-profit and commercial South of 4th Street

— Ember Souchet - DeFoor Brothers Development - Large property owner, commercial and hotel South of 4th Street

— Gordon Stalans - Tennessee Aquarium - Large property owner, non-profit North of 4th Street

— Erskine Oglesby (Automatic Seat) - District 7 City Council

— Todd Gardenhire (Automatic Seat) - Tennessee Senate, District 10 

— Robin Smith (Automatic Seat) - Tennessee House of Representatives, District 26

While the board is largely property owners and tenants, three elected officials are also on the board. 

State Senator Todd Gardenhire and Representative Robin Smith have automatic ex officio seats on the board, per state statute. 

T.C.A. § 7-84-519 provides that the Senator and the House Representative whose districts include the majority of the area contained in the BID serve as ex officio members of the board. 

Per the city's ordinance which formed the BID, the council member representing District 7, which includes the BID, will also serve on the board. 

Throughout the BID's struggle to pass city council this summer, a consistent concern from members of the public opposed to its formation was equal representation on the board, including that of tenants vs. property owners, small businesses vs. large businesses and demographic diversity. 

 

The board is comprised of: 

— Two-thirds (10 out of 15) white people, 1 /3 people of color (5 out of 15)

— Four small property owners, 4 large property owners, 3 elected officials, 2 tenants (non property owners), 2 residential owners.

— 73% (11 out of 15) men, 27% (4 out of 15) women 

 

The board was selected by a nominating committee composed of:

Dana Perry - Homeowner and commercial tenant

Mindy Benton - Commercial tenant

Travis Lytle - Small commercial owner

John Clark - Small commercial owner

Jon Kinsey - Large commercial owner (steering committee member)

 Keith Sanford - Large non-profit owner (steering committee member)

 Anthony Byrd - District 8 City Council member

 

The meetings:

Per the council's ordinance forming the district, the BID board must comply by a number of transparency criteria, including adhering to state public meeting law. 

While location and time are likely to change after the board's first few meetings, the first meeting is set for Oct. 23, at 2 p.m., in the River City Company conference room at 850 Market Street, Suite 200.

 

The fees: 

To fund the district's services, commercial and nonprofit landowners in the district will pay an annual assessment of 9 cents per square foot, of either the lot or building size, whichever is greater, plus $4.95 per linear foot of lot frontage. Residential property owners with townhouses or condominiums would pay a flat annual fee of $150 per unit.

Despite the embattled district still facing a lawsuit filed by six property owners who believe the BID was formed unlawfully and the county commission reversing its agreement to provide collection services for the BID, the district managed to bill for the fees on Oct. 1 property tax bills, with the help of the city treasurer. 

If the lawsuit, which will not be heard again until Nov. 1, finds that the city violated state law by reintroducing the BID as a council ordinance just weeks after it failed as a petition based ordinance, it is unclear what will come of already collected fees. 

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at 423-757-6416 or at staylor@timesfreepress.com. Follow her on Twitter at @_sarahgtaylor.

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