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By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic
SUISUN CITY - Tempers flared at Tuesday's public hearing regarding the City Council's reauthorization of the Suisun City Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District.
Each year, state law requires that affected businesses be given the opportunity to submit a written protest that, if successful, would force the Business Improvement District to disband.
Owners whose BID fees equal at least 50.1 percent of the total collected totaling $17,100 for 2007 have to sign. [Blog editor's note: This assertion is incorrect. The total must be the amount that will be paid in 2008, which we project at $20,250.]
Early Tuesday, it appeared that protesters had enough signatures, including some from owners of Main Street businesses that face the water.
However, those in favor of the district secured retractions from four or five of those who had signed.
City liaison to the BID, Scott Corey, said the final tally at 43 percent fell short of that needed to disband the district.
During the public hearing, BID board president Garry Rowe suggested that those who retracted didn't really know what they were signing initially, and were 'misled' into thinking the petition, if successful, simply meant the BID fee would be waived.
Small business owner Ed Collins, who owns Collins Music and Collectibles on Main Street, said he'd been circulating the petition. He provided the City Council with a copy of the written explanation he said was attached to the petition that the owners signed.
He suggested that those who'd retracted had been 'coerced' and said, 'I can't believe we're operating this way.'
Rowe's wife, Laura Cole Rowe, had a dramatically different take. She told the City Council that she's worked with business improvement districts in other cities for 20 years.
Barely containing her anger, she reminded those attending the hearing that state law permits written retractions to be taken until the close of the public hearing.
'If merchants want to 'survive' in the same old rut, then disband,' she said. Those who support the BID 'want to be alive and thrive.'
Council voted unanimously to reauthorize the Business Improvement District and the reassessment of the fee.
Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.