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Minutes Old Webster Special Business District

Advisory Commission Meeting – Special Budget Meeting

Thursday, February 7, 2013

 

Members Present: Ron Clipp, Phil Lindwedel, Mara Perry, Jackie Postiglione, Joe Rath, Kathy Reimelt, and Kerry Thornton.

 

Others Present: Mayor Gerry Welch; and Ellen Light, Secretary.

 

Presiding: Don Baumstark

 

Meeting began at 8:00 a.m.

 

Purpose of Special Budget Meeting

• Goal today to discuss answers to questions that were sent in.

• Don thanked everyone for participating.

• Mara described how they did it in Old Orchard, suggested we should go through list first, and based on list pinpoint some goals and then what some key actions are to get to those goals.

• We can then identify where we want the money to go.

Questions answered from last time:

• Do we audit business licenses? 

Ø We do, random audit is done to see if there is consistency.

• What if we want to increase tax levy? 

Ø It is required that property owners and residents have to vote, must be done by mail.  Each LLC e.g., have one vote, ballots then determine new assessment limit. It is owners, not the tenants that get to vote. Tax is only imposed on businesses and residences in district. We collect as much as we can out of what is already authorized.

Ø When you go to County’s website you can see breakdown of all this.

• Property tax revenue from Provision Living is $785.

• Church lot now renewed until 2015, can’t make changes—now $966 per month; increasing by $25/month each succeeding year.

• The new street lights actually cost less than budgeted, about $6,348?

• We can look at options for voting and raising some things, but can’t change contract on Church lot.

• Ron asked about Provision Living, do we get revenue from business license as well?

• There is a difference between property tax rate for residence vs. commercial.

• Kathy asked about letter that goes out to owners regarding potential tax increase, is it about both types of taxes?

• Mara asked general question about what is procedure to change—not completely clear on whether that encompasses both types.

Ø Election is only for ballot property tax to owners and residential owners.

Ø These are above all other taxes that people pay, only within these boundaries.

• Kerry asked, since we are asking about changing revenues, is there any way to get apartments or businesses that own them to be included? 

• Joe said it was discouraged because it would require individuals who rent there to participate.


SUMMARY

Top 3 Major Responsibilities

Plan & implement goals

Monitor budget to achieve goals

Promoting events - Beautifying district - Working w/city to help beautify district

 

STRENGTHS

Large/centrally located/potential for growth…small-town feel

Location, physical elements

Small stores, good restaurants, walkable.

Events/good neighbors

We can promote diversity of retail

 

WEAKNESSES

Difficulty expanding north of tracks

Issues of parking

Lack of funding for major projects

 

MAJOR OPPORTUNITES

Sculpture park

Create a park along Elm at Lockwood

Branding the City (better PR and communications)

Jazz fest etc.

 

THREATS

Loss of business space to non-retail

Absentee landlords lack of concern for area

Losing the mix of stores that will draw people on daily or weekly basis

 

VISION FOR DISTRICT

What do you see for next 5 years?

Discussion of Promoting Growth

• Where… what do you see as growth? Is it to be in existing buildings?

• Kerry: Vision should be having more events to bring people to area to promote growth and increase awareness; how about a city-wide SALE? 

• Mara mentioned that last Saturday morning at 8:20 a.m. her family was outside Serendipity in Old Orchard for “Ice Cream for Breakfast Day”…with lines completely out the door.

• Mara asked about infrastructure?  Pedestrian?

• Ron: Beautification is one of the things that make district pleasant to visit.

• Don: We need to figure out ways to continue look with less income.

• Kerry: Or try to get public more involved; we need more coordination between volunteers and ours. Maybe needs to be more centralized?

• Mara: Would it be “maintain” the pedestrian experience.? 

• Ron: We would like to enhance if we had the revenue.

• Ron: We’ve brought about a dramatic change, don’t want it to go backwards, but new lights for example…have enhanced it.

• Phil: What do we mean by promoting growth?

• Mara: We determined that we’re talking about promoting growth within existing buildings.

• If we figure out what our vision is then we can determine what a couple of key goals are.

Ways we can bring a couple of them together

• Mayor: Would like to add a vision about other side of the tracks…love to see it be wonderful in five years; power lines down, make that side viable and lively…with sculpture park at the end.

Ø To potentially expand and connect to sculpture park.

Ø Enough parking.

• Don: noted that people who eat and shop here walk a small distance and then drive to his place.

 

GOALS

Discussion: What would be a goal that we would like to build on to promote growth?

• Kathy: More events to promote district.

• Kerry: What about just retail events?

• Kathy: Maybe restaurants should have promotions.

• Kerry: Try to get the restaurants more involved.

• Phil: We need to improve the communication.

• Mara: Yucandu was on Facebook talking about voting…  Farmers Market, Robust is having annual Mardi Gras event.

• Mayor: Business Development Commission has been doing something about making sure to get communications out to all the businesses.

• Don: That’s always been the problem trying to get the word out.

• Mara: If you have put together the message then we can work on delivery.

• Phil likes idea of “adopt a …” block, corner, container, tree.

• Ron: Maybe we could approach business owners like if they want plant container in front of place they could pay half, or “adopt” with our “matching fund?”

Discussion: Parking Improvements

• Mara: There are a series of spaces that have PNC Bank signs which will be removed.

• We always had a percentage of yellow and orange…this year provision in ordinance allows additional 18 spaces for yellow permit, and, we won’t sell any more orange permits. 

• Some people don’t know about free lot.

• Kerry: A lot of customers were getting ticketed… asked if we could provide for some kind of “free pass” to reward customers.

• Ron: Maybe we could help fund a way to work a deal with city …”Parking Ticket Program?”

• Ron: We can go back to reference the parking survey that cost us a lot.

• Mara: Perhaps we could put a little fund together in our “Advertising” to cover customer parking complaints.

Discussion: Expansion for Sculpture Park

• Don: It would have to be pedestrian, tied into development… some property with no potential, and then you have major issue of Pacific being parked on by employees in other parts of district.

• Mara: Might be able to use “adopt” program to stretch further down that way.

• Mara: Do we need to replace banners in this year’s budget? 

• Joe: If we add any locations…we have no banners.

• Don: We’ve asked Ameren for permission to put banners on certain poles in district.

• Mayor: Beautification Grant, need to get idea about burying lines near sculpture park.

• Mara: If someone does come in you can put in a requirement that they bury lines.

• Ron: one of things we need to do maybe put a bridge over tracks? Unfortunately impractical, too expensive to consider.

• Ron: If RR could take old greenhouse facility and turn it into a parking lot?

• Mara: Someone is already interested in redeveloping entire area…with combination of some commercial with some residential.

 

ACTIONS

Discussion of actions we would like to take

• Mara: One of goals we didn’t put on there…do we want to add that we would like to research increasing income. (tax, etc.)? Several members said yes.

• Ron: Property taxes are already too high.

• Don: Therein lies the problem in saying we’ll raise taxes.

• Joe: It depends on how people’s leases are written.

Retail Events to Promote District

• Phil: A lot of that has to do with individual businesses, through communications.

• Don: Do we need to provide filter? Monitor sites to get word out?

• Mara: Do you want to set aside more of Advertising budget for communications?

Need to restructure Advertising and Promotion Budget

• Don: Fund balance has been decreasing because of new needs—doubled our district beautification with Parks from our previous method.

Discussion of Parks spending on decorations

• Mara: If we want to keep numbers at same level as they are, that will be the budgeted limit.

• Right now the other accounts for materials—Parks Dept. prefers that we give lump sum for exact for materials and labor, so that would be what they have to work with.

• Mara: We need to make our budget decisions, and discuss themes (citywide)

• For future we just need to plan out when we need Shawnell to come to meetings for input.

Budget items to consider?

• Banners/building lights/pedestrian signs (not budgeted for this year?)

• Parking ticket options.

• Adopt a pedestrian amenity—e.g. benches.

Ø Kerry: Maybe add to Webster website about adopting benches for example.

 

Elections in March

• We have to have election of officers in March; Don will sit in chair for February and March meetings; wants to go back to co-chair or just Committee member. 

• Ron: Is there anyone who is willing to chair?

• Mara: There are people wanting to come on board; she is willing to help with meeting items and communication, we should know more by next meeting.

• Phil: What about absenteeism policy? Mara noted policy is you’re not supposed to be absent for more than two or three meetings.

 

Open Discussion/Old Business

• Joe: Regarding increase of orange spots along Bristol parking lot; we don’t have them, has to be done by ordinance…he had call from Novus, some business looking for 22 spots.

• Mara: Reliable Life did buy the lot across the way (so they could build their building).

• Kerry: What about handicapped parking spots? Mara noted there is a map.

• Joe: We are lacking in spots as far as requirements, but we have not had a request for people wanting more handicapped spaces.

• Kathy inquired about ownership of spaces behind buildings on Gore.

 

Meeting ended 9:35 a.m.

 

Next meeting: Tuesday, February 26, 2013