Wednesday the Reno City Council unanimously approved annual fees for property owners in the Business Improvement District (BID). The council created the BID last year in an effort to improve the appeal of greater Downtown Reno.

"[Business Improvement Districts are] really meant to bring additional resources and focus in on a special area," Ward 2 Councilwoman Naomi Duerr says. "In this case, our downtown area."

Property owners in the district are paying approximately $2.7 million combined, with each fee based on the property value and the location. Those funds increase police presence and cleaning services form public works, and to employ Reno Ambassadors that help homeless people in the district access resources.

"Rather than having the interaction be with a police officer, the idea was to have the interaction be with an ambassador," Duerr says. "Who can spend more time and really find people help more resources rather than arresting them."

Some property owners shared their support for the BID during public comment, but many expressed opposition.

"We keep double paying for this homeless shelter through one for our taxes when the county gets the money to do it," East Fourth Street Property Owner Eddie Lorton says. "And then it causes blight on our community and they're hitting us with an assessment so I'm getting double taxed for the same problem with zero results."

Lorton, along with other property owners, say they haven't noticed a difference in police presence or cleanliness.

"Zero [change,]" Lorton says. "If you'd like to go for a ride we can get in my car and go to my property right now. And I bet there's some homeless people sitting back there. You won't see an ambassador anywhere. And they've never picked up trash at my place."

Lorton says he feels businesses closer to the center of downtown get far more attention than businesses on the outskirts.

Duerr says property owners are charged lower rate fees for being in the standard zone, rather than the premium zone and premium-plus zone (Zones are outlined in the map).

Many property owners argued about the assessment of their business, but Washoe County assesses all properties, and the City of Reno creates the rate property owners pay.

Duerr says many property owners weren't aware of the hotline they can call if they need services, and hopes the hotline will help the city address business owners who feel they aren't getting their money's worth.

"Give it some time," Duerr says. "We spent a lot of time, thought and public input in putting together the BID, again the Business Improvement District. And I think we need to just give it a little time to get its feet and its following, and to work out any kinks."

Duerr says the $2.7 million are fees and not taxes, because they have to be used for the BID. Still, Lorton says what matters is the extra money he has to pay.