Wednesday’s Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting will present the Trustees with an opportunity to further the enactment of a Special Improvement District (SID).
On the docket is Ordinance 2012-01, which calls for the creation of a SID in South Orange. It will be read for first reading on Wednesday. If passed, it will be read for second reading and the public will be able to comment at the next BOT meeting.
A committee had met from April of this year until October to determine if a SID should be enacted. The committee decided that it should, however, many business owners are asking that it not come to fruition.
In November, an ordinance was brought to the BOT; however the trustees decided not to take action on it, saying it needed more work. Following two SID workshops, a new ordinance has been written.
The ordinance declares that South Orange will benefit from a SID with respect to:
- Beautification, cleanliness, maintenance and design standards
- Marketing, advertising, public relations and events
- Business recruitment and retention
- Coordination of downtown activities and clearinghouse for information
The ordinance now creates both a SID and a Downtown Business Improvement Zone (DBIZ). If passed, the ordinance authorizes Village Counsel Steven Rother to work with Main Street South Orange to transform their organization into a Downtown Management Corporation.
Some of the powers given to the corporation would include the ability to manage a staff, apply for grants, enter into contracts with any person or company to exercise their functions, organize special events in the district, provide security and sanitation, advertise the district and the businesses in the district, recruit new businesses to the district and provide holiday decorations.
The revised ordinance also makes clear that some actions that may be taken by the corporation must be approved by the Board of Trustees. Those actions include the ability to borrow money from private lenders and government entities, acquiring properties and funding the rehabilitation of properties.
The corporation will be controlled by a board of twelve members. Included will be one trustee, four property owners, four business owners or operators, two residents who are neither a property nor business owner and one member of the Parking Authority. The Village Administrator or a designee will be an ex officio non-voting member. The Board of Trustees will decide all the members of the board with the exception of the Parking Authority member.
Any money collected by assessments of business shall be used solely to benefit the district. Any business owner who doesn’t pay the assessment will be treated as if property taxes weren’t paid. In addition, the Village will submit quarterly payments to the corporation.
The original ordinance declared that any “Any balance of funds remaining unexpended at the end of the fiscal year shall be applied to reduce the assessment required to fund the subsequent budget of the Corporation.” This has since been removed from the new ordinance, meaning that the SID will hold on to any remaining funds to use in the subsequent year’s budget.
The corporation must be audited every calendar year, no later than the end of April. In addition, an annual report must be provided to the Village President and Board of Trustees.
The district and the corporation will terminate five years after the date on which the initial budget of the corporation is approved by the Board of Trustees, unless an ordinance is passed by the Board of Trustees to extend or shorten the date of termination. There is no mention in the ordinance of how that determination will be made and whether business owners will have a say.