CBC Report On BIDs Calls For Increased Oversight And Transparency
CBC Recommends Public Review and Performance Evaluation
The Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) today released "BIDs - Organization, Oversight, and Transparency," a report detailing concerns about Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in New York City.
There are currently 74 BIDs serving 85,000 businesses in more than 42,000 properties throughout the five boroughs. BIDs derive the bulk of their funding from special assessment fees levied on property owners; collectively the assessments totaled more than $100 million in fiscal year 2016.
"BIDs have performed a useful function in providing services to commercial districts throughout the city. But enhanced oversight, transparency, and measurable results are needed to assure that every BID continues to be needed and effective," said CBC President Carol Kellermann.
Every BID is operated by a nonprofit district management association that is overseen by a Board of Directors and Small Business Services (SBS). The Board oversees the operations and financial activities of the BID and ensures the organization follows all required reporting mandates. SBS provides technical assistance and is tasked with making sure that BIDs fulfill the goals outlined in their District Plans. While SBS and the City's Law Department have recently standardized the five-year contracts between the City and BIDs, further steps need to be taken. CBC recommends revising the five-year contract to improve organization, strengthen oversight, and increase transparency through four specific changes:
- SBS should have specific criteria and metrics to evaluate BID performance and analyze progress in the implementation of their strategic plan. This data, in addition to the data that SBS already collects, should be included in the annual BID report.
- BIDs should be required to survey their members at least once every five years to determine satisfaction with their strategic plan and performance.
- SBS should also disclose any written notices of violations it has issued to BIDs, as well as the actions taken to correct these concerns.
- The City Council should hold oversight hearings at least once each year to review the SBS's oversight of BIDs with contracts up for renewal.
The full report is available at https://cbcny.org/research/bids-organization-oversight-and-transparency