116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Council has given final approval to creating a self-imposed taxing district on the city’s south side, which a council member said will be a “real boon.”
Mayor Pro Tem Megan Alter, who lives in the South District, said she thinks the self-supported municipal improvement district, or SSMID, will be a “real boon to the area.”
The area’s residents, she said, want to strengthen the neighborhood while retaining the area’s character.
Council member Janice Weiner agreed.
“It’s truly been an effort of the residents to put this together and push it forward, and I’m really happy to see it come to fruition,” she said.
The money collected from the self-imposed tax levy — which starts July 1, the start of fiscal year 2023 — will be used to revitalize the Pepperwood Plaza area south of Highway 6 between Broadway and Keokuk streets.
The South District Neighborhood Association brought the idea to the council in September 2020. Council members complimented the work of the neighborhood association in engaging business owners and residents.
The third and final consideration of the ordinance was unanimously approved by a 6-0 vote, with council member Laura Bergus recusing herself.
Map of South District SSMID
The South District SSMID would cover properties south of Highway 6 in the Pepperwood Plaza.
With a SSMID, property owners volunteer for a property tax to be collected and invested back into the district. Such districts have been established in downtown Iowa City, downtown Cedar Rapids and Czech Village/New Bohemia area in Cedar Rapids.
The South District SSMID will generate about $104,000 annually, with a levy of $5 per $1,000 assessed taxable value.
The levy will last five years unless renewed.
The money will be used in three main ways: supporting marketing and business retention, enhancing the appearance of the district, and hiring an executive director.
Angie Jordan, president and co-founder of the South District Neighborhood Association, told The Gazette she’s most looking forward to creating the SSMID board and expanding the team involved with business revitalization.
A selection committee, she said, that will appoint members to the board. The committee will have representatives from the neighborhood association, Southgate, the Multicultural Development Center of Iowa and MidWestOne Bank, according to the ordinance.
The SSMID board will have 11 voting members, including property owners, business owners and residents. The board also can have non-voting members from community development agencies, such as the Black Voices Project, Johnson County Interfaith Coalition and the Iowa City Area Business Partnership.
“What's exciting about this board is how diverse that range of seats is,” Jordan said.
Once the members are selected, the board will establish its bylaws and enter an operating agreement with the city to begin collecting the SSMID levy. The board then will hire an executive director.
Jordan said concerns about gentrification and increased police presence in the area will be addressed.
As property values rise, Jordan said, it will be important to continue to have affordable housing and affordable lease rates for businesses.
She said residents need to continue to be involved in the leadership and implementation of the SSMID.
Educating individuals about the district and how it works also need to continue, she said.
“We want to get folks over to our side of town, but we also want to get folks within our side of town to invest in themselves, in our area,” Jordan said. “ … That money, that's one way to create social change right there.”
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