Old Town-Based Taxpayer Group Unveils "No BID Tax" Website; Says Opposition to Business Improvement District Is Growing

(Alexandria, VA) -- Resistance to the proposed Old Town Alexandria Business Improvement District (BID) and accompanying property tax hikes has arrived, as a "No BID Tax" website unveiled today by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) indicates. The Old Town-based citizen group developed the webpage -- located at www.OldTownBIDTax.org -- in collaboration with a local business owner and activist as part of its campaign against the scheme.

"The bright red stop signs popping up in shop windows along King Street should be clear signals to City officials that many BID-area business owners view this proposal as yet another unnecessary tax increase," said NTU Government Affairs Manager Kristina Rasmussen. "We hope launching this new website will prompt more commercial property owners to ask whether increasing costs for businesses will really attract additional visitors to Old Town."

Although NTU is a national organization, Rasmussen was quick to point out that the group is opposing the BID from the standpoint of a decade-long property owner within the designated improvement district area (i.e., along the King Street corridor and one block on either side between the King Metro Station and the river). In a September 21 letter to City Council Members, NTU President John Berthoud first expressed his concerns over the BID, which would be funded through a new property tax assessment of nearly 10 cents per $100 of value.

"The City was flush with [funds] even before adding a $3.00 cell phone tax, a cigarette tax increase of 20 cents per pack, and a new admissions tax to the revenue stream," Berthoud wrote. "There is no need to act rashly in advocating a new tax on some Alexandria businesses. ... It is my strong belief that any supposed service inadequacies can be addressed using existing tax revenue."

According to Rasmussen, in response to emerging financial support from BID-area property owners, NTU expanded its efforts to include compiling a fact sheet, distributing "no! BID TAX" signs, and circulating a petition opposing the plan among businesses. In a letter to commercial property owners within the BID area, NTU calculated that spending in Alexandria grew 47 percent between 2000 and 2005 due to soaring revenues -- more than enough for any legitimate public programs.

Rasmussen noted that creating a locally-driven website to serve as a central clearinghouse for information and activities about the BID was the next logical step in NTU's campaign. "Now, businesses who agree that Alexandria isn't suffering from a lack of government spending and believe that there is no good reason for a property tax hike have a place on the web too," Rasmussen concluded.

NTU was founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government and has been headquartered at 108 North Alfred Street since 1995. Note: Visit www.OldTownBIDTax.org to download "no! BID TAX" signs, obtain NTU's fact sheet, or sign the anti-BID petition. More information about NTU is available online at www.ntu.org.