From clean streets to landscaping, self-imposed tax dollars are being invested back into the community by the South Dallas Fair Park Public Improvement District (PID).
As previously reported by the Dallas Free Press, South Dallas property owners of roughly 630 parcels have opted to pay extra taxes for public improvements.
Dallas Free Press recently interviewed Shannon Brown, executive director of South Side Quarter Development, which manages the South Dallas Fair Park PID, to try to understand how these tax dollars are benefiting the neighborhood, and how COVID might be impacting the work. We also asked the City of Dallas some questions about the PID, and some of those answers were supplied by Anastasia Reed, City of Dallas spokeswoman.
What is a PID?
“In the city of Dallas, a PID is a special assessment area created at the request of property owners in the proposed district via petition. Property owners pay a supplemental assessment with their property taxes, which PIDs use for services and/or improvements above and beyond existing City services.” Anastasia Reed
What does the extra assessment pay for?
“The assessment allows each PID to have its own work program or service plan, which may consist of eligible activities such as marketing, providing additional security, landscaping and lighting, street cleaning, and cultural or recreational improvements.” Anastasia Reed
“It goes into taking care of different improvement areas in the neighborhood, such as landscaping, maintenance, public safety and security, events and marketing. Then you have another line that’s administrative for operations, getting the audit done, and things like that.” Shannon Brown
What exactly were funds spent last year and how will they be spent this coming year?
“We hired Miles of Freedom, a rehabilitation organization that does lawn maintenance, landscaping and things like that, to be our lawn maintenance company. Along the public streets of the neighborhood, which would be parkways and alleyways, they mow them, trim them and keep up areas that have been landscaped, such as planters that you see along Atlanta, Meadow and Malcolm X in the Martin Luther King corridor. A public parkway area is defined as the green area between the sidewalk and the street. Any other part of the area is private property, and we are not allowed to do any upkeep or maintenance on those areas.
“We have also hired Rick Henry Image Management Company, which is a courtesy team, and a team we created called MLK Clean Team; they clean the public areas in the entire PID twice a week. We just implemented a haul service where that will begin in 2021 and aid in the beautification of the neighborhood. Every first Thursday of each month any of the old furniture, tree brush/debris, large trash piles, etc. that the City of Dallas bulky trash services missed or doesn’t pick up, our services will come through and pick that up.” Shannon Brown
Does the community have any influence on the PID?
“We only get the information of the owner from the tax office, and by law, all they can provide us with is an address and a name. They can’t provide us with a phone number, they can’t provide us with the email address. So we have to send out mailers. We sent out a letter and we sent out an overview, starting in the beginning of January 2019 up until June 2020, that gave a step-by-step of operations to when we actually started implementing projects in the neighborhood. I don’t know if everybody’s receiving their mail or paying attention to their mail. So it might be something that gets overlooked. We try really hard to reach out to the neighborhood as a whole.” Shannon Brown
Is there a process created, for a resident living in these areas that are being taxed, to make a recommendation of where the money should be spent?
“We have our annual ownership meeting [every June] and definitely open up the table to the owners. We will come with a plan in mind, or what we wanted to utilize the funds for. Sometimes when you just ask this person for ideas, they might not be as forthcoming or have good ideas. If you already have a plan, they can say, ‘Oh, no, I don’t like that; I’d prefer to do this.’ So when we have our annual ownership meeting, we go over what we plan to do with the funding. We give them the budget, show them each category, how much money is going toward each line item, and then let them give us ideas on what they want.” Shannon Brown
What neighborhoods, community landmarks, businesses, etc. are part of the PID?
There is a city park that is part of the PID. But any business, while they are an owner in the PID, does not get landscaping and things like that done. They do get some public safety services addressed to them because we have our security team that takes care of making sure that the public areas are monitored and maintained. We also have a partnership with the Dallas Police Department. The way our rules are written, we address the public areas, not so much the private areas, but we have created partnerships with organizations. For example, if we have somebody who’s doing PID security and they’re walking through the neighborhood and they’re looking at things going on, it’s really hard for them to not address what’s happening on that private property. They will usually go ahead and call and report that to 311 or report that to homelessness or report that to the police, etc.”
Who is on the PID board making decisions about the funds?
The South Dallas Fair Park PID has a five-member board.
“Shannon Brown-Key is the executive director of the South Side Quarter Development Corporation, which is the management entity for the South Side & South Dallas Fair Park PIDs. She is employed by Matthews Southwest, a real estate developer of several major projects in and around the South Side PID. She contributed to a neighborhood study of the historic areas of South Dallas along with HKS, the City of Dallas, [bc] Workshop and 2000 Roses, and has served as a member of The Real Estate Council (TREC) and the Bike360 committee.
“Victoria McPhaul lives in the South Blvd/Park Row historic district and is the training and compliance manager for Cintas’ First Aid and Safety Division. She serves as a board member of the South Dallas Cultural Center Alliance, volunteers with Dwell with Dignity, and serves as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.
“Becky Madole serves as senior community development advisor at St. Philip’s School and Community Center, located in South Dallas. Prior to St. Philip’s, she served as director of strategic partnerships for Uplift Education.” Anastasia Reed
“I tried to utilize people from the neighborhood on the board, people who are active and who can speak for organizations that are active in the neighborhood. We’re looking for a new board member because the one we had before stepped down last year. So we actually have a board seat open, and I got some names at the ownership meeting. I just haven’t been able to really narrow it down to interview people and still want to get more names. We need the odd number for voting purposes.” Shannon Brown
Are any other stakeholders involved in this process?
“So when we first started the PID, I reached out to all the stakeholders in the neighborhood — St. Philip’s, Cornerstone Baptist Church, the Dallas Weekly. Just any organization. The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Miles of Freedom. Men of Nehemiah, just all of the businesses and all of the people who have faith in the neighborhood, and was like, ‘Hey, we’re taking over the PID.’ [The City of Dallas cancelled the contract with the former PID manager, Hip Hop Government, in October 2017, citing a lack of insurance. The contract was awarded to South Side Quarter Development Corporation in late 2018.]
“There were probably 15 different stakeholders in the neighborhood. I gave them more information, told them what we wanted to do, and asked them for feedback and their opinion on what should be done. They also gave the list of people that could potentially be on the board. We host an annual ownership meeting every year. It is usually in the summer between June and July. Last meeting we had about 35 owners attend. The year prior we had about 45.” Shannon Brown
Is the PID assessment bundled with other property taxes or assessed separately? Is it possible to opt-out?
“It’s an assessment on top of what they pay for property tax. It is 15 cents for every $100 [of property valuation]. It’s not a high rate. But the thing is, you can only re-establish a PID every seven years. Once it was established in 2016, it won’t be up for renewal until 2023. And you can’t opt out until the next renewal period. The way they do it is by majority. So you have to have at least 60 percent of the entire neighborhood say, yes, they want to do this. And if you get at least 60 percent, if you’re within that boundary, your taxes will be assessed.” Shannon Brown
How much is each property owner being taxed by the PID?
“To find out how much you are paying, you can go to a tax website and look at your bill and it will say ‘PID tax assessment’ and it will show exactly how much you pay.” Shannon Brown
Any homeowners, landowners or business owners located in the South Dallas Fair Park PID who want help determining how much they pay to the PID can email Dallas Free Press or send a text to 214.380.3066 with your name and address, and we will send you your PID assessment fee.
Has the current pandemic impacted the PID?
“We wanted to have a presence in all three phases of the neighborhood right before we put up a website, and we didn’t start working in phase three, which is Malcolm X streets to Robert B. Cullum, until September of this year. We started in phase one, which was in June 2019, from Lamar to Colonial streets. Then this past September, we were three months behind schedule due to COVID. We just moved into starting all the services in phase three. So because of limited funding and the history with the previous management company, we really wanted to kind of phase everything in and go slowly so that we’re not seeming to spend money without really making sure that we’re thinking about every area. Every neighborhood is not the same. You have an area that is really wide, it has nothing on it; then you have an area that is a little bit more wealthy with the historic district; and then you have a neighborhood that area that’s a little bit more upkept with programs. We kind of base it on that. So that might be why some of the people who are in the South Fair area [Fair Park Estates], they feel like we’re not using the services as much as this area or this area. And we kind of created it that way, so that we could kind of customize our plans toward what we thought each phase would need.”
Interviews have been edited by Dallas Free Press for brevity and clarity.
This story was co-published by our media partner, the Dallas Weekly.