RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- From getting rid of the trash to helping the homeless, cleaning up the downtown area has been a priority for the Reno City Council.
Neoma Jardon, Vice Mayor for the City of Reno, says the creation of the Business Improvement District, or BID, will make the area safer and more inviting.
"Well, I think that anybody that's been downtown can see that downtown needs some attention," says Jardon. "From the cleanliness of the streets to augmented security and having ambassadors downtown that will really interface with our homeless to connect them with services. That is a big part of the Reno Business Improvement District and something that is sorely needed."
As part of the plan, property owners in the downtown area would be charged a fee, which would fund a private organization that would oversee BID functions and services and champion downtown. The fee would be based on property value and would replace the fees of Special Assessment Districts already in place. While the City says the vast majority of homeowners in downtown would see their assessed fee go down, this would be a new fee for churches and nonprofit organizations that have been exempt from the SAD fees.
Jackie Frady, Executive Director of the National Automobile Museum, says she's not opposed to the BID. In fact, she says the museum and the entire area would benefit from a cleaner downtown. However, she's concerned about her nonprofit museum having to pay the new fee that is assessed at around $9,200 a year. And the pastor of Reno First United Methodist Church says, for them, it's not the amount of money they would have to pay that she's most concerned about.
"My concern is how the money would be invested," says Rev. Kris Marshall of Reno First United Methodist Church. "And I think unless we also address the needs of the poor downtown, it's not going to do as much good as it could do otherwise."
Several businesses like the Eldorado and Harrah's have made it clear they are on board with the plan that will use teams of ambassadors to clean up the streets, provide public safety, and interact with members of the homeless community to get them the resources they need.
"We know we have some problems, so the best way to solve a problem is to start somewhere and this is the first step," says Rick Murdock, Vice President of Eldorado Resorts. "And it's a big step. It's a great thing for our city."
The new Business Improvement District is expected to have an annual cost of $2.3 million. It will take effect July 1, 2018.