During the Dec. 9 Turlock City Council meeting, the newly sworn in City Council in a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Amy Bublak dissenting, approved the agreement between the City and the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association (TDPOA) to renew and implement a 10-year Management District Plan in the district bound by Olive and Crane, and Lander avenues and Palm Street for economic development.
The agreement stems from the California Property and Business improvement District Law of 1994 which aided in the 1998 formation of the City of Turlock Property and Business Improvement District (PBID), which initially had a five-year contract and was renewed in 2003 as a 10-year contract through 2013.
The law is designed to help businesses located and operating within districts that are considered economically disadvantaged, underutilized, and less able to attract customers for a variety of reasons.
The agenda item was initially on the consent calendar with a variety of other items to be adopted, but was taken off for discussion.
Maryn Pitt, Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development gave the staff report on the item, calling it a “housekeeping item.”
Per Pitt, the purpose of the item was to formalize the agreement that implements the management plan and the specific sections of the street and highway code relative to Turlock with the City acting as the taxing agency and intermediary between the nonprofit TDPOA to the County tax collector; it also defined who was responsible for particular landscaping areas.
Bublak questioned the item because of mention of the Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau. The agreement, according to the City, is reflective of the values the TDPOA provides in relation to their promotional activities and coordination with the Turlock Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Bublak called everything great, but ultimately voted no on the item claiming that because the Chamber was involved, she would not participate in effort to be consistent in voting.
Bublak was the lone dissenting vote as the Turlock City Council approved 4-1 a $249,253 Visitors Bureau budget without report of results, stats, and data. Bublak favored waiting to vote on the matter until the CVB and Turlock Chamber of Commerce could provide statistics, data, and a plan of action before allocating the funds; she also called for a business plan preceding a decision.
Bublak noted mention of a budget in the agreement twice, Pitt explained that the term budget was in regard to the collection of revenue from the TDPOA and was part of the initial agreement for the PBID as adopted by the Council.
According to the law, it is beneficial to allow cities to fund business related improvements, maintenance, and activities through the levy of assessments upon the businesses or real property that benefits from those improvements.
Per the law, the rationale is that it is in the public’s best interest to promote the economic revitalization and physical maintenance to create jobs, attract new businesses, and prevent the erosion of the districts.
Assessments levied for improvements and promoting activities that benefit properties or businesses are not taxes for the general benefit of a city, but are assessments for the improvements and activities that grant special benefits upon properties or businesses for which the improvements and activities are provided.
On July 9, 2013, the Council held a public hearing regarding adopting a resolution that established the PBID 2013, which expired in December 2013.
According to State law, it is required that the City contract with a non-profit corporation, in this case the TDPOA, which will manage PBID and be responsible for submitting budgets and anticipated increases.
As a nonprofit organization, TDPOA has an annual budget of $136,860, of which nearly 99% is derived from the PBID assessment on approximately 45 property owners in the Downtown Association; essentially, business owners in these districts are charged a fee which goes back into a fund to support the unique needs that a downtown area in any given city might have that tax dollars cannot legally fund.
TDPOA will also be responsible for submitting an annual written report to the City describing the Organization’s activities for the previous year; they will also be responsible for awarding and administering all subcontracts necessary for activities and improvements based on a competitive bidding process.
Of note, the City will provide a minimum of 16 staff hours per week for maintenance within the district and will be responsible for areas in the public right of way, like tree wells, fallen trees, tree gates, light posts, directional, parking enforcement and landmark signage and trash receptacles.
TDPOA will be required to contribute funds to the City parking lot fund for maintenance on lots within the district in amounts ranging between $5,000 and nearly $7,000 annually. The Association will also be required to negotiate and contract cleaning and maintenance of landscaping.
As it has passed the Council, the agreement will take effective when all outside parties agree, and will expire Dec. 31, 2013 assuming there is no wrongdoing or breach of contracts before that time.