The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce board of directors passed a resolution today expressing support for the creation of a Municipal Services District (MSD) in the Central Business District in Downtown Wilmington. An MSD is a tool that provides a way to fund extra services or projects within an area through revenues generated by an assessment on property owners in the district. As a condition of their support, the Chamber board stipulated that the MSD should be managed by Wilmington Downtown, Inc., and that the greatest percentage of funds be used for enhancing safety, cleanliness and beautification downtown.
There are 56 MSDs in North Carolina that charge assessments, and we learned more about the effectiveness of the tool on our recent InterCity Visit to Richmond. Creation of an MSD was included in the Vision 2020 Plan adopted in 2004, but has never been implemented. With the significant growth in housing, hotels, businesses and visitors to our downtown, it’s become an even greater issue to increase safety and general attractiveness that could have a negative effect on business.
An MSD will provide a sustainable approach to funding additional projects, and will enhance, not replace, existing municipal services. The proposed 7 cents per $100 of valuation will raise $270,000, and that recommended 7-cent levy is far lower than the average 13-cent levy in MSDs across the state.
The City of Wilmington asked Wilmington Downtown, Inc. (WDI) to study the creation of an MSD. WDI formed an 11-member task force of downtown business owners to develop the current proposal. The City of Wilmington City Council will hold its first public hearing on the issue on October 18th.