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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 08/21/13
DDA cuts budget by
$14,500, keeps director
by CHRIS GRAYThe Romeo Downtown Development Authority (DDA) placed a priority on hiring a new executive director despite a 10 percent drop in revenue.
Observer Staff Writer
The DDA voted 5-3 to amending its budget to compensate for a loss of $14,500, taking away from areas like downtown decorations while maintaining a payroll budget.
DDA Secretary and DDA liaison Mike Lee and DDA Directors Sandie Lorensen and Ted Czajka cast the dissenting votes at the Aug. 14 meeting.
The DDA receives funding from Bruce and Washington townships as well as from Romeo through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) collections. Any property tax revenues above the base year of 1990 in the Central Business District (CBD) are diverted to the DDA.
DDA Treasurer Carol Humphreys said the majority of the loss stems from assessed values dropping in the Bruce Township section of the CBD. The amount dipped from $17,000 in 2012 to $3,000.
"Right now the property values of the downtown on the Bruce side are almost equal to 1990 values," she said.
The DDA also saw a $1,500 reduction in its 1.98 CBD millage collection, but did see a $1,000 increase in its TIF collection from Washington Township.
The board determined where it could cut to handle the reduction, with the debate heating up when the topic of hiring a new executive director at $24,000 a year was raised.
Lee objected to the hiring, saying he would rather see the DDA invest in decorations and brick and mortar projects that benefit residents and businesses.
"I just think what the village sees as a whole, and not just the Central Business District, is they see the Christmas lights, they see the flowers," he said. "They don't see the director."
DDA Chairperson Randy Seidel said while he enjoys the decorations, he believes the DDA needs to have an executive director to support the downtown businesses.
"It's the merchants that we're really trying to promote and get their businesses recognition," he said. "I know that the goal of the DDA is more than just hanging flowers and supporting the marketing that keeps the storefronts moving."
Humphreys said the payroll likely won't reach the $24,000 mark this year since the director wouldn't work for a full year.
The board decided to chip away at other sections of the budget to maintain the payroll. The biggest reduction was in downtown decorations by a total of $5,500, which includes banner installation, plant and flower maintenance and flower baskets.
The board also agreed to tighten up its downtown blueprints project funding, which includes a rollover of $35,500 from last year.
Other reductions were seen in marketing ($2,400), office expenses ($4,000) and professional services like legal counsel ($1,000).
Executive director decisions
With the budget amended, the DDA turned its focus to hiring a part-time executive director. Seidel said he didn't want to wait another month and risk losing the candidate.
DDA directors said they hoped to meet the candidate before giving their approval of the recommendation. The DDA voted 5-3 to hold a special meeting on Aug. 16 to meet with the candidate, with Lee, Lorensen and Czajka dissenting.
"This is not an attempt to pull a fast one, this is an attempt to get the right candidate in front of us as quickly as we can," Seidel said.
The meeting also provided the DDA a chance to approve of the candidate so the issue could go before the Village Board of Trustees on Aug. 19. The hire must be approved by the board before the candidate can begin.
The DDA decided against inviting the candidate to the Aug. 14 meeting given the nature of the budget discussions. The DDA didn't wish to name the candidate until he or she was hired.
The executive director will work part-time hours for a maximum wage of $20 an hour and have no voting powers on the DDA board.