BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Property owners within the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID) will see a decrease in this year’s special assessment tax bill.
The township approved the BID’s $627,550 for the 2019-20 fiscal year with a $597,300 assessment on May 20.
The BID represents over 300 retailers and restaurants, mainly along Bloomfield Avenue, and raises revenue with a special assessment paid by property owners based on the total assessed value of retail and combination housing/retail properties within the district.
Property owners can expect to pay a little less this year because property values have increased. While property owners were taxed at .2 percent last year, this year the assessment is at about .173 percent.
This year’s assessment is based on $345,926,800 in property values. Those properties were valued at $293 million last year, according to a list of BID properties on file with the township.
An owner with a $1 million property will pay $1,726, approximately $274 less than they did in 2018, according to Executive Director Jennifer Brown, who took over for the former director Israel Cronk in November.
The BID acts as the go-between for businesses and governmental agencies, supplements the town’s beautification and maintenance of the downtown area, recruits new businesses, markets downtown and businesses, and holds and promotes events.
The assessment reflects a $30,000 increase from last year’s budget. The budget also reflects $30,000 in revenue from sponsors and income generated from festivals and events.
Staffed by a director, programming and events manager, and office administrator, salaries increased $20,000 up to $246,200 for 2019. The director received a 5 percent raise — up to $100,000 — and the events manager went from part-time to full-time.
The ambassador program — budgeted for $117,000, up $17,000 from last year’s amount — went from a staff of two full-timers and two part-timers to three full-timers, said Brown. The ambassadors handle downtown aesthetics such as plantings, snow removal, sweeping and basic aesthetics.
The budget for employee health insurance went down by $3,000.
The quality of life portion of the budget, which funds vehicle maintenance and equipment, increased from $7,000 to $22,500 due to a vehicle repair, said Brown.
Under visual improvements, the budget for holiday decor remains the same at in 2018 at $10,000. Landscaping increased by $2,000, up to $14,500.
Advertising and marketing went down $3,000 to $28,000. Last year, that budget decreased $5,000.
Money for events and programs increased this year from $46,000 to $47,500.
“The budget for the most part reflects a continuation of the BID’s programs and events from the prior year. The parklet program will extend for about five-and-a-half-months, whereas last year it was only one month,” said Brown.
Office expenses remained relatively flat at $101,600. Rent remains at $27,000.
A 2018 capital reserve allocation of $25,000 was listed at $0 for this year’s budget, but Brown said the reserve is actually at $140,000.
“The BID closed a bank account that was being held as reserve related to another issue in FY18 and transferred that money to the capital reserve, effectively providing double the reserve funding in FY18, so we paused the FY19 contribution. Our capital reserve stands at a healthy amount in order to replace aging capital equipment and potentially identify other items for purchase,” said Brown.
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.
The budget was created late last year and sent to property owners, who weighed in both via mail or email and at a final meeting in December when votes were tallied.
Brown, who has been with the Montclair BID for almost seven months, is a Montclair resident and the former executive director of the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership BID in New York.