DANVILLE — City officials are leaning toward reinstating some of the city's financial support for Downtown Danville Inc., the merchants association that promotes the downtown.
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said his administration is planning to include in tentative budget documents for Tuesday night's city council meeting about $10,000 in marketing expenses for DDI, but only on a reimbursement basis. DDI would have to submit up to $10,000 in eligible marketing expenses to the city for reimbursement for the upcoming fiscal year.
The city council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 6 in the Robert E. Jones Municipal Building, 17 W. Main St., Danville.
Alderman Steve Foster, Ward 7, still wants the city to provide more funding to DDI. Overall, he said, the city shouldn't cut off 100 percent of the organization's funding, and if the mayor wants to monitor their funds more closely through reimbursement, that's fine. But, he said, he also doesn't want the city micro-managing the organization, which has its own leadership. Foster and Alderman Steve Nichols, Ward 6, have publicly expressed to city administration at previous city council meetings that they want the $30,000 for DDI to continue.
Last year, the city gave DDI $30,000 and $37,000 the previous year. But for the upcoming city fiscal year that begins May 1, city administration proposed cutting all its funding to DDI. Eisenhauer told aldermen that the funds were cut as city administrators scrutinized all its spending in an effort to put funding where the city will receive the most in return. According to Eisenhauer the city has actually increased its support of downtown by creating the Downtown Services Division, which has one full-time employee and part-time employees and has spent $100,000 on parking enforcement, special event support, maintenance and beautification.
The city's $30,000 represents a sizeable portion of the public-private organization's revenue, but its single largest source of income is a property tax levied within a Special Service Area, a designated section of the city's downtown that includes the main downtown business sector.
DDI has an executive director, Dana Schaumburg, and its own operating board, whose members are owners or representatives of downtown businesses or organizations, and the mission is to promote and develop the downtown.
Aldermen and city administration discussed funding for DDI at length during a special budget study session on Saturday, and that's when the $10,000 compromise was suggested.
Some aldermen want the entire $30,000 reinstated to DDI, while some wanted less and some wanted none at all.
DDI officials submitted to city officials a breakdown of how the $30,000 in city funds is spent. Eisenhauer said $5,000 is for signs, $10,000 for marketing and $15,000 for business recruitment.
Eisenhauer said Monday that the city's public works department has its own sign department, so giving DDI $5,000 in city funds for that expense doesn't make sense, and Vermilion Advantage, the local economic development agency, does business recruitment, and the city gives money to that organization, too, so that's a duplication.
"The only area I believe is beneficial and not a duplication is marketing," said Eisenhauer, who added that DDI's marketing efforts include advertising, signs, billboards and more.
Foster said the original intent of the city's donation to DDI wasn't for physical maintenance of the downtown area. He said it was to maintain DDI and it's public-private partnership with the city as a whole.
"We don't expect them to be out there doing streets and gutters," he said.