But some downtown property owners felt they weren’t included in the EID’s creation. They said the city’s assessment records were wrong and that it shouldn’t have moved forward without more input and review.

Proposed projects under the Economic Improvement District Marketing and promotion of businesses, public events or other activities within the EID
Planning and management of development or improvement activities
Conducting activities supporting business development and recruitment
Using decorations, flowers, trashcans, planters, benches, banners, signs or other assets to improve the look of the EID
Enhancing safety and security within the district
Cleaning and maintenance of public spaces within the EID
Any other economic improvement activity that benefits the districtPortland-area attorney Christopher Thomas worked with property owners during the EID process. In an April 7 letter to the council he stated that several property owners weren’t notified about the January 7 city council meeting where the EID was formally created.

Marketing and promotion of businesses, public events or other activities within the EID
Planning and management of development or improvement activities
Conducting activities supporting business development and recruitment
Using decorations, flowers, trashcans, planters, benches, banners, signs or other assets to improve the look of the EID
Enhancing safety and security within the district
Cleaning and maintenance of public spaces within the EID
Any other economic improvement activity that benefits the district

City staff relied on records from the county assessors office, which he said are known to have problems.

“The assessors records have a significant number of errors regarding square footage,” he said during an interview on April 14. “They didn’t actually go out and verify that the numbers were correct.”

Thomas submitted a list of properties in question to the council. Tony Mounts, the city’s director of administrative services, disputed Thomas’ argument and said Thomas was working from mailing addresses, not tax lots, leading to the discrepancy.

He added that property owners with discrepancies in square footage were directed to the assessor’s office for verification.

In an April 10 response to Thomas’ letter, city attorney Randall Tosh stated most of the property owners in question were notified in time for the January 7 city council meeting.

During the April 7 city council meeting, business owners who didn’t receive the letter were allowed to voice their concerns on the record. Thomas said the council likely would have rejected the EID if one-third of property owners voiced opposition in meetings or through letters, however few did.
Despite these concerns and controversy, the city has started the process of collecting EID assessments. The assessment period began April 8.

The money will be collected through a tax assessment of about 6-cents per square foot for buildings and structures and 2-cents per square foot for parking lots or lots without buildings. The nonprofit agency Go Downtown Salem! will use the funds to implement EID goals.

The median assessment will be approximately $675, according to Mounts.