MT. VERNON — The Downtown Mt. Vernon Development Corporation will be able to expand beyond the boundaries of the special services area taxing district.
“Funding for DMDC has been solely from the tax monies collected in the district,” City Manager Ron Neibert said. “Under the recommendation ... they can be a true downtown Mt. Vernon entity. They were restricted by what they could do with the SSA dollars. They can now expand their boundaries of influence and bring more people into the downtown fold.”
Previously, the SSA funds were the only funds allowed DMDC, and the majority of the funds were needed for maintenance and hiring a maintenance person in the downtown area. Earlier this year, the city took over the maintenance duties through the public works department. Under the upcoming budget, the SSA tax dollars would go to public works to continue to pay for the maintenance, and the city will allocate $115,000 to DMDC for programs and promotion of downtown.
“This relieves them of the burden of physical maintenance of the area,” Neibert told the city council Monday during a budget workshop. “They truly can be an economic development arm of the downtown area and a program entity, rather than a janitor for downtown.”
According to Councilman Dennis McEnaney, the DMDC is excited about becoming a private/public entity rather than a “quasi-city department.”
“They are looking forward to getting away from maintenance and get into a true economic development engine and they want to expand their area and cover more of the downtown area,” McEnaney said. “They can also bring in more private funds to market the downtown area.”
Councilman Ron Lash said when he found out SSA tax funds were being used for maintenance and sanitation downtown, he was surprised.
“I was surprised it was part of their responsibility,” Lash said. “I though (maintenance) was city responsibility, as it’s part of the city.”
Neibert said the amount of work to maintain the downtown area was beyond the tax funds collected and the DMDC budget.
“This frees them up to do programatic things for downtown,” Neibert said.
The city council is expected to meet on April 29 to approve the 2013-14 budget as well as an ordinance to raise the water and sewer rate by a total of 3 percent, with the budget and increase going into effect on May 1.