The Rock Island City Council on Dec. 12 approved an ordinance to establish a new Downtown Special Service Area (SSA).

Downtown property owners, business owners and residents expressed an interest in various special services – in addition to general municipal services provided throughout the city – in the area where their properties, businesses and residences are located, according to the Quad Cities Chamber.

Services proposed by the Downtown Rock Island Steering Committee include greater beautification and maintenance; boots-on-the-ground hospitality and troubleshooting; capital improvement grants; business assistance and attraction; marketing and advertising; government advocacy; and special promotions and events, among other place management activities aimed at improvement of the downtown area.

Making improvements to downtown Rock Island’s Great River Plaza are planned with $3 million in new state funding. (photo: Brian Weckerly)

The services shall be provided through the levy of a direct annual tax upon all taxable property within the SSA’s contiguous boundaries, roughly the area between 1st and 7th Avenues and 13th and 28th Streets. The tax shall be levied at a rate not exceeding 1.15% of equalized assessed value, the chamber said.

The city may provide the services directly or enter into a services contract with a service provider agency. In the latter case, payment shall be made by the city to the provider using funds from the special service area tax levy, the chamber said. Those funds shall be restricted to improving the business and cultural environment of the area, and downtown stakeholders on a governing board of directors shall help guide specific use of the funds.

City Council carefully considered the creation of the Downtown Steering Committee’s requested special service area and passed an initiating ordinance on Aug. 22. The city later issued public notices, allowed for public comment and held public hearings on the proposed SSA. The first reading of the ordinance was approved Nov. 28.

Draft agreements between the city and the Quad Cities Chamber for management of the SSA and governance and board bylaws for a new place management organization are expected to be presented to City Council for consideration by the end of the year, the chamber said.