Frequently Asked Questions regarding Special Improvement Districts

What is a Special Improvement District?
A Special Improvement District (SID) is a physical area in which property owners elect to pay an additional assessment in order to fund public improvements and services that benefit the district.

Is a SID different from a BID?
The Ohio Revised Code establishes Special Improvement Districts. Other states use the term Business Improvement District for similar programs, however the terms are interchangeable.

What services can be offered by a SID?
Services must be for the public good and may include maintenance, physical improvements, cleaning, and additional safety among a variety of activities. The services are chosen by the property owners themselves, through a Board of Directors, and cannot replace city services.

How is a SID set up?
A SID is established when owners representing 60% of the front footage or 75% of the land area of the district sign a formal petition to establish it.

Why is a SID needed?
Business districts often establish SIDs to fund improvements and services that will help the district succeed. Establishing a SID allows property owners to directly control what their assessments fund.

How will a SID be governed?
A nonprofit organization operates the SID and is governed by a Board of Directors comprised largely of property owners and businesses, keeping the operation and funds of the SID in local hands.

Merchants association or SID?
A merchants association is a great first step, but SIDs have certain advantages. SIDs provide a steady and reliable stream of funding that all property owners are required to pay.

Will the city reduce its existing services?
No! A city is required to maintain its base level of services and frequency of service. A SID’s services only act as supplemental services.

How much will a SID cost?
Individual assessments are based upon your property and the assessment formula developed during the SID’s formation.

How long will a SID last?
The length of a SID is determined by the services plan approved by property owners and the city. While SIDs can last longer, most SIDs last for three to five years, after which the SID can be renewed.

Do SID assessments change?
Many, but not all, SIDs include an annual increase to cover increased operating expenses of the SID. Locally, SIDs schedule increases between 1% and 3% annually for the length of a SID.

Will the SID leverage additional resources?
A SID establishes a nonprofit that can seek additional grants, loans, and other funding mechanisms to supplement SID assessments.

I want a SID! What do I do?
This document is a great place to start! Read through this Guidebook, contact your local government, and use the resources contained here.

Top image: Flats East Bank by Erik Drost; accessed 8/26/20; licensed under CC BY 2.0