PBID Lite Comes With Budget Pains

LA MESA -- It was Week II of the new, slimmer Property Based Improvement District planning and the lesson was clear: Less Is Not More.
The team of merchants and property owners trying to come up with a plan acceptable to a majority of Village property owners started getting a feel for the impact of greatly reducing the size of the proposed assessment district. With roughly half the area of the original proposal, the new district would generate about half as much money to fund maintenance, security and marketing efforts.

It was clear the group would have to make some tough decisions in paring back the amount they would be asking property owners to pay each year.

Lynn McRea, the PBID committee chairwoman, estimated the new, slimmer PBID area would generate about $185,000 using the formula used to determine assessments in the original PBID effort proposed more than a year ago. That is far less than the $378,000 in the group's original budget.

Looking over the budget, the group made the cuts quickly, completely eliminating $60,000 for increased security and $50,000 for special projects and amenities. The group then cut maintenance from $65,000 to about $40,000 and cut marketing by 50 percent to $50,000.

The group insisted the organization would need a full-time executive and left $100,000 in its operations and administration budget to fund that office. The PBID supporters believe a full-time executive would inject the professionalism needed to generate more fundraising and more profitable events from the city's quaint business district promotions.

As the group assessed the somewhat anemic feel of the reduced budget, several people suggested the group revisit the data to see if there could be more revenue generated if the assessments were based on business licenses within the district, rather than individual property parcels -- essentially shifting to a Business Improvement District, rather than a property based district.

McRea agreed to review the numbers again, but reminded the group that an effort to establish a BID some years back was roundly rejected by the business owners. "That's why we've been looking more closely at the PBID this time around,'' McRea said.

The group will meet again next Monday at 6 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of La Mesa to continue looking at details of expenses and reviewing estimates of assessments property owners would be asked to pay to help fund extra maintenance and marketing efforts in the Village.




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Tags: BID, Government, La Mesa Today, La Mesa newspaper, Lynn McRea, PBID


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Comment by Bill Jaynes on July 9, 2013 at 12:34pm

They say that generals are always fighting the last war. Well, the last BID effort failed because it was a top-down centrally driven power grab designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many, thrust forward in an attempted blitzkrieg meant to isolate and demoralize skeptical voices. It morphed into a flying circus that chewed up good people, like Judy Means, who trusted the ludicrous assurances of popular support from the same behind-the-scenes politicos pushing that fiasco.

The willingness to use fear and intimidation was never far from the surface; I remember sitting in on one discussion where a proponent was asked whether the banks would support the "financial institution" fees to be assessed. Answer: "They don't DARE oppose us."

The end result was years of in-fighting and bitter recriminations, self-exile for some, and bad relations between City Hall and Village stakeholders manifesting in official City memos attacking the merchants as "unreliable partners", or perhaps best exemplified by the statement of Mayor Art Madrid in a public meeting in January 2011 that, as a result, "I did nothing Downtown for eighteen years." (Tape available upon request.)

Oh--there was one other outcome: a very public political humiliation at an overflowing Council meeting, and a belated recognition (promise, really) that the parking meter revenue is the best, most practical, and fairest way to address the decades old issues facing our Village.

"Two City Council members who opposed establishing the special business tax district said they're interested in the idea of rerouting downtown revenues back to the merchants.

"This is an approach I've supported since there was initial opposition (to the business improvement district)," said City Councilman Barry Jantz. He noted that redirecting the parking revenues from the downtown district back to the businesses is a solid way of increasing their budget without increasing local taxes. "This is the direction we have to go. The money is taken in from the downtown district and that's where it should be spent."

San Diego Union-Tribune

November 20, 1999


Sometimes it feels like generals just want to fight the last war. Are they as willing to learn from it?

Bill Jaynes


8401 La Mesa Blvd.

619 464 2298

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