BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Customers at businesses along York Road in Baltimore may soon see some changes designed to clean up the area, but the plans come at a cost — a tax increase for nearby property owners.
The road is the heart of the Govans neighborhood, but it’s a heart with some clogged arteries. The sidewalks can be grubby places that aren’t welcoming for those hoping to shop nearby.
Chef Ray Davis knows the problems of crime and grime in the area — he owns Flight American Fusion restaurant.
“Let’s do this together, let’s invest in our neighborhood, let’s invest in Baltimore, let’s invest in Baltimore, let’s invest in York Road,” Davis said. “Let’s show our community we’re glad to be here, we’re glad they’re having us.”
Property owners are being asked to tax themselves to pay for three people and an administrator to keep York Road clean and appealing.
Councilman Bill Henry has led the planning to create a business improvement district in the area.
“If you keep an area clean and you maintain it as an area you’d want to treat with respect, that will be a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Henry said.
The new brooms and eyes on the street would raise tax bills by hundreds for some and thousands for others; Davis’s would increase by $150, a price he said is worth it.
“That’s an investment, that’s an investment back into the community that drives us,” he said.
Only the owners of business properties would see the tax increase, not nearby homeowners.
Business owner Laura Penza agrees with the goals of a better, cleaner, safer York Road but not the financial details.
“We’re not against a Business Improvement District, it’s how it’s funded, it’s how the decisions are being made, who’s in charge, how the decisions are being made, what does it mean? The process has not been as smooth as you might want it to be,” she said.
The ballots are now in the hands of property owners, but because of the computer shutdown in the city, the deadline has been extended to mid-June.