Sunday, December 20, 2015

DGI To Get Competition

Big changes are about to take place in the way the City of Greensboro manages its Central Business District.

Currently the "non profit" Downtown Greensboro Incorporated has been granted the responsibility of seeing to it that the needs od the district be taken care of but according to Kara Millonzi of the North Carolina School of Government, things are about to change:

"Section 15.16B of S.L. 2015-241 (state budget) imposes limitations on a municipal board’s authority to levy an MSD tax for any of the authorized purposes. It also mandates that a municipality follow certain procedures before entering into a contract with a private entity to provide services within certain types of MSDs—namely those established for downtown or urban area revitalization. Finally, the new law designates a study commission to look at the feasibility of allowing property owners to opt out of an MSD."

But that's not all, not only can property owners opt out but according to Ms Millonz, North Carolina municipalities will now have to open management of  municipal service districts to a bidding process, something never before done here in Greensboro:

"Specifically, the new law amends G.S. 160A-536 to require that a municipality do all of the following before entering into a contract with the private entity to “provide services, facilities, functions, or promotional and developmental activities in a service district:”

Solicit input from the residents and property owners as to the needs of the service district. The statute leaves it up to the municipality to determine the best way to obtain meaningful input from both property owners and residents. A unit could hold one or more public hearings, but this process is not necessary and may not be sufficient in some cases. A unit might also conduct written surveys or hold focus group discussions with affected residents and property owners. In some municipalities, the governing board may be able to simply request comments from those who live or own property in the district. A unit may have to use different information gathering methods for property owners, who likely are more actively engaged in the district, than for residents.

Use a bid process to select the private entity that is contracting to provide services or undertake projects in the MSD. Generally, a local government must use an authorized bid process for purchase and construction and repair contracts over a certain dollar amount. (Click here for information on bid thresholds and requirements.) A local unit is not required to bid service contracts, though, unless the unit itself has an internal policy requiring it to do so. The new law now requires a municipality to use a bid process to select a private entity to provide services, facilities, functions, or promotional and developmental activities in a downtown or urban area revitalization MSD, regardless of the amount or nature of the contract. The requirement applies to new contracts and to renewals of existing contracts. Thus, if a municipality enters into yearly contracts with a management company, it will need to undertake a bid process each year to select the company."

Could this mean that in order to compete, DGI will have to substantially cut Zack Methany's 6 figure salary? Or fire him altogether? What other cuts might be necessary now that competition comes into play?

While I've not been a fan of North Carolina's Republican leadership in recent years I must give credit where credit is due: In the war against local corruption they have struck a mighty blow-- one that was long due in coming. Oh, and by the way, several NC legislators both Republican and Democrat tell me they read this blog daily.

I encourage you to read Changes to Municipal Service District (MSD) Authority

For Zack and the Grasshopper: "You can bend me, you can break me, but you better stand clear!"