On Monday night, the Sunnyside City Council heard a presentation by John Carpita of the Municipal Research and Services Center about local improvement districts, often referred to as LIDs.
Carpita said forming a local improvement district allows a city to make infrastructure improvements and tax only the property owners who benefit from the improvements.
The process allows either the city or the property owners to start the formation of a local improvement district. The process does not require the full consent of all the property owners involved and can result in taxes or liens on property owned by people who disagree with the improvements.
Throughout his presentation, Carpita repeatedly noted opportunities for protests and lawsuits built into the process of using a local improvement district.
"Lawyers must love this thing," noted Councilman Nick Paulakis.
"They do, actually," answered Carpita.
Paulakis asked what the benefit is to using local improvement districts if protests and lawsuits were so likely. Carpita said that for some areas it is the only way to fund infrastructure improvements.
"If there is an area of town that needs to be fixed, street, sewer, water, storm drains, whatever, maybe the only way to do it is to get some local participation from the property owners," said Carpita. "And the only way you are going to be able to do that and have it be fair to them and fair to the city as well is by doing the LID process."