How Can an SSA Help Downtown Flourish?

A special service area (SSA) is a defined, contiguous area in which a special tax is levied in order to fund, support and implement a wide variety of predetermined services and physical improvements within a defined geographic area.

The number of SSAs being formed continues to increase each year because they have proven to be instrumental tools in successful revitalization efforts. SSAs are largely used to support retail and central business districts. They provide essential services and improvements essential to the stability and growth of an area, and can target the collective priorities to focus on and fulfill the specific needs of a defined district.

How is an SSA established?
During the planning stage, it is important to research and identify what the specific service needs are within those newly formed boundaries. Due diligence is important at this stage, as proper planning can make all the difference in the success of an SSA.

Prior to establishing an SSA, an important step is to hold a public meeting to share the plans and discuss details, including the proposed geographic boundaries, budget, services provided and tax levy information, as well as to answer specific questions that allow for valuable input.

How can an SSA benefit Downtown Peoria?
Special districts tailor services to meet local needs. Counties and cities must protect their residents’ health, safety and welfare; thus, they must provide many services, regardless of citizen demand. Special districts, however, only provide the services their communities desire. Small groups of citizens can be quite effective in influencing special districts’ decisions.

Special districts link costs to benefits. General-purpose local governments—counties and cities—levy general taxes to pay for public services. The services taxpayers receive are not directly related to the amount of taxes they pay. In a special district, only those who benefit from the district’s services pay for them. Those who do not benefit do not pay.

Special districts protect property value. The funds collected are utilized to maintain and improve essential infrastructure, which protects property owners’ long- and short-term investments.

Special districts provide needed services. SSAs are used to support and implement a wide variety of services, physical improvements and other activities, all of which add value to the entire community.

Infrastructure improvements, such as landscaping, lighting, benches, curbs, parking lots, trash receptacles and other street improvements, can be made possible through an SSA. Other common services typically provided by an SSA include improved signage and way-finding systems, maintenance services, seasonal decorations, marketing programs, improved trash and snow removal, and basic security services—all of which attract businesses and visitors to an area.

A Proposal for Downtown Peoria
The Downtown Development Corporation is currently working on such a proposal for Downtown Peoria, which will include information such as boundaries, governance structure, revenue sources and rates, along with potential services. The DDC plans to present an outline of the proposal to the public, investors and stakeholders in the near-future in order to collect ideas and feedback regarding the services that would be most beneficial to downtown businesses and property owners. We look forward to discussing and researching the possibilities of establishing an SSA that can help to facilitate dynamic and positive growth in Downtown Peoria for many years to come. iBi

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