Jaimie Julia Winters
The Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID) budget for 2018 is $567,000, remaining relatively flat compared to last year’s budget of $562,300.
The BID is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization established in 2002 by the local business community to enhance and promote downtown Montclair as a regional shopping, dining and entertainment destination.
It represents over 300 retailers and restaurants mainly along Bloomfield Avenue and raises revenue with a special assessment based on the total assessed value of all retail and combination housing/retail properties within the district.
This year’s total assessment is based on $293 million dollars in properties. Property owners can expect to see a 0.2 percent special assessment this year; a property owner owning a $1 million property should expect to pay $2,000, said Treasurer Robert Weber.
The BID currently is the go-between for businesses and governmental agencies, supplements the town’s beautification and maintenance of the downtown area, recruits new businesses, markets the downtown and businesses and holds and promotes events. Staffed by a director, program associate and office administrator the salaries are at $226,200 for 2018, not including the ambassador program budgeted for $100,000, which employs a staff of two full-timers and two part-timers to oversee the downtown aesthetics such as plantings, snow, sweeping and basic aesthetic maintenance.
This year’s budget includes the addition of the program coordinator at $20,000.
“Jo Ann Smalls has been volunteering for years creating the live music on Church Street on Saturdays. We thought it was time we brought her on officially,” said Director Israel Cronk.
Under the quality of life line items, cost for the ambassador program, vehicle and supplies went down by $2,000 to $115,000.
Under visual improvements, the budget for holiday decor increased to $10,000 from $6,000. Total landscaping and beautifications projects for Bloomfield and South Park avenues, Bloomfield Avenue and Church Street remained the same with the entire amount being $22,000.
Advertising went down from $36,000 to $31,000, with the banner allocation going away. Weber said they have banners for every occasion and event at this point.
Money for events and programs increased this year from $43,500 to $66,000 with the addition of the program coordinator, more music events and an increase in operating expenses.
This year, in a partnership with the town, an app named “Montclair150” will offer daily and weekly business discounts along with a calendar of events celebrating the town’s anniversary.
“This will result in tremendous savings for anyone wanting to shop local,” said Cronk.
Office expenses went down overall from $107,600 to $102,100. Budgeted rent costs went down, as last year the organization anticipated a move but decided to stay put at the North Willow Street location due to costs, storage and parking. Meals for workshops and conferences went up. In 2015, the Montclair BID was recognized by winning the Great American Main Street Award. Weber said they attend the American Main Street conference every year and are often asked to present programs, as well.
As health insurance went down, office payroll went from $215,200 last year to $206,200 this year.
Capital reserves have increased from $12,500 in 2016 to $25,000 in 2017 and remains the same in this year’s budget. The reserve is used for costs incurred by emergencies, such as a bench needing replacing, said Weber.
The budget does not include grants or sponsorships, which are not “written in stone,” said Weber.
Cronk said along with event sponsorships, he would like to apply for block grants for infrastructure improvements. One such grant was received for the placement of wayfinder signs in the early 2000s.
The budget was created in October 2017 and sent to property owners, who weighed in both via mail or email and at a final meeting in December when votes were tallied. Cronk said the response from property owners on the budget is always high, but could not provide exact numbers.
The budget will now need approval of the township council.