Pursuant to Connecticut General Statute § 7-339m (2006), “Any municipality may establish by ordinance of its legislative body as provided in this chapter, within its confines, a special services district or special services districts to promote the economic and general welfare of its citizens and property owners through the preservation, enhancement, protection and development of the economic health of such municipality.” Generally, the formation of a special services district results in the implementation of a levy upon the taxable interests in real property within the special services district, the revenues from which may be used in carrying out any of the powers of such district.
The Hartford City Council is scheduled (next month) to entertain a proposal developed by the MetroHartford Alliance (for those of you unfamiliar with the work of the MetroHartford Alliance, I urge you to visit their website here and see the wonderful work this organization performs related to economic development) which seeks the creation of a special services district for downtown Hartford, as well as parts of Asylum Hill and Farmington Avenue to the city line on Prospect Avenue. As the editorial points out,
“If approved by property owners within the district in a special election, it would represent an enormous commitment on the part of the business community to downtown's long-term viability. Property owners would be voluntarily paying an additional tax each year to pay for improved safety, cleanliness, marketing, landscaping, holiday lighting, parking, special events and other services that supplement what city government provides.”
As a disclaimer, I have not read the proposal and, therefore, I do not have full understanding of the purpose and need for the formation of the special services district. According to the editorial, special services districts have been successful in other parts of the State (is there one in West Hartford?). Some questions that should be considered include: (1) if approved by the City Council, does the proposal have the overall support of the property owners within the proposed district (can the property owners handle an additional tax?); (2) does the proposed need for this district signify that the City has failed or become stagnant in its revitalization efforts, or does it reflect a greater desire by the property owners to expand on the City’s revitalization project; and (3) can Hartford transform itself into a 24-hour town, or is this just wishful thinking? All opinions are welcome on this subject (especially, if you have experience in such a district or are a Hartford property owner who could be affected by this proposal).
August 21, 2006, Hartford Courant (editorial), Downtown's Missing Link
MetroHartford Alliance (website, last visited August 21, 2006), http://www.metrohartford.com
Connecticut General Statutes §§ 7-339m to 7-339t (2006)