If enough of them vote for the self-imposed tax, landlords inside the proposed district would pay to support a nonprofit organization much like a chamber of commerce. The organization would make sure businesses inside the district would see cleaner streets, more landscaping and special events to draw people to the city’s center.
Most of the property owners in the proposed district have yet to respond to the petitions, which are due by May 15.
Some of the 100 or so landlords included in the district — especially some on the steering committee — worry that the apparent lack of interest means they won’t see the majority vote needed to levy the new tax. That’s why planners have scaled back the borders to exclude 11th Street and the blocks on 10th Street closer to City Hall.
The smaller the district, the more likely landlords are to approve it come the June special election, said Ursula Luna-Reynosa, director of the city’s development and engineering department.
As now proposed, the district will be about 20 percent smaller than as first planned, said Marco Li Mandri, the consultant hired for $30,000 by the city to organize the tax district.
The Tracy Inn is one property that would be excluded from the redrawn district. The Margaros family has, since the 1940s, owned the inn that takes up nearly an entire block on the corner of 11th Street and Central Avenue. With the inn now excluded from the proposed district, the Margaroses will be spared between $13,000 and $15,000 a year in what would have been a self-imposed tax.
Without the Margaroses and a couple other landlords on board, the annual budget for the business district, if it gets off the ground, would shrink from about $170,000 annually to somewhere around $140,000 or $150,000.
“It’s not that I’m opposed to it; I just question the timing,” said Dino Margaros, the general manager of the historic inn. “It’s a bad year — it’s a bad time because of the economy.”
He said he wonders why so many property owners — some of whom live outside Tracy — still haven’t responded to the petition sent out last month about the proposed tax.
“That’s where the question mark is, too,” he said. “Is it apathy? Is it lack of support? I just wonder how people will respond when you’re asking them to pay more in such a bad economy.”