13 Dec Rock Island City Council establishes downtown Special Service Area
Rock Island City Council on Dec. 12 approved an ordinance to establish a Downtown Special Service Area (SSA).
Downtown property owners, business owners and residents expressed an interest in the performance of various special services – in addition to general municipal services provided throughout the city – in the area where their properties, businesses and residences are located.
Services proposed by the Downtown Rock Island Steering Committee include greater beautification and maintenance; boots-on-the-ground hospitality and troubleshooting; capital improvement grants; business assistance and attraction; marketing and advertising; government advocacy; and special promotions and events, among other place management activities aimed at improvement of the downtown area.
The services shall be provided through the levy of a direct annual tax upon all taxable property within the SSA’s contiguous boundaries, roughly the area between 1st and 7th Avenues and 13th and 28th Streets. The tax shall be levied at a rate not exceeding 1.15% of equalized assessed value.
The City may provide the services directly or enter into a services contract with a service provider agency. In the latter case, payment shall be made by the City to the provider using funds from the special service area tax levy. Those funds shall be restricted to improving the business and cultural environment of the area, and downtown stakeholders on a governing board of directors shall help guide specific use of the funds.
City Council carefully considered the creation of the Downtown Steering Committee’s requested special service area and passed an initiating ordinance on Aug. 22. Subsequently, the City issued public notices, allowed for public comment and held public hearings on the proposed SSA. The first reading of the ordinance was approved Nov. 28.
Draft agreements between the City and the Quad Cities Chamber for management of the SSA and governance and board bylaws for a new place management organization are expected to be presented to City Council for consideration in January 2023.
In early 2021, Rock Island City Council approved a contract with the Quad Cities Chamber to explore the creation of a new downtown place management organization supported by sustainable funding to deliver services that enhance public spaces, encourage investment and improve quality of life. The process was guided by the Downtown Rock Island Steering Committee made up of property owners, business owners, residents, City officials and other community stakeholders.