Old Town Trying to instill a Business Improvement Zone

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Old Town is trying to instill a Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) to increase funding.

“Old Town is part of what’s called a Principal Shopping District (PSD) and has its properties assessed, essentially a special tax,” said Jamie Schriner-Hooper, a volunteer for the Old Town Organization Committee.   “Old Town has been trying to put a Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) in place so that the funding stays in Old Town.”

“The process of a BIZ is quite intricate.  Once we are a BIZ we will not be a PSD they are two different types of taxing bodies,” said the executive director of the Old Town Commercial Association, Brittney Hoszkiw.  Attached is an excel work sheet with a work plan regarding Old Town becoming BIZ.

Half of the PSD tax that property owners pay is returned to the Old Town community, in the form of a grant.  They would like 100 percent returned to the community, she said.

Hoszkiw described the PSD as an organization that has a similar mission, focused on downtown Lansing.

Heather Chunko, the board treasurer for Old Town, said the budget has improved over the past two years due to reduced costs creating a greater surplus at the end of the year.

“The director has done an excellent job of cutting costs, so the budget has improved to strengthen the cash position of the association.  More accurate financial reporting and using the QuickBooks budget tool has also made it easier for the board to measure their performance against the budget on a monthly and annual basis,” she said.

Shannon Rolley, a volunteer for the Old Town Organization Committee, said Oktoberfest, that took place on Oct. 7 and 8 in Old Town this year, affected Old Town’s budget.

“We had a record year that will definitely help us set aside funds for future years,” said Chunko.

Hoszkiw said Old Town’s budget is very dependent on the success of the festivals held there.

There are three sections to the Old Town Budget, said Chunko.

“There is a section for festival and event revenue, dues, grants, and donations.  We also have a section for our direct festival and event costs, and then a section for general and administrative costs for the association,” she said.

“Most of the amounts in the annual budget are ball parked based on historical data, unless we are aware of something that would cause it to be significantly different,” said Chunko.  “The budget is then reviewed monthly and can be revised based on any new information that might affect it for the remainder of the year.”

Katie Robiadek, the program manager for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing said government funding is lacking for certain programs.

“Government funding is way down for important programs that help urban revitalization.  Those government funding programs come from tax revenue,” she said

 

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