Downtown's facelift fund stretched thin

Keely
Keely Dakin
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The Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District Association (PADIDA) is looking to make up $16,000 in lost provincial grants but civic parking meters might not be the answer they’re looking for.

The Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District Association (PADIDA) discovered near the end of 2012 that they would be receiving only $8,329.21 of the expected $24,000 from an annual provincial grant in lieu of tax for the government’s downtown properties. PADIDA intends to follow through with this year’s events, however with the reduction in funds that may be difficult, so they are currently awaiting on city council to determine if it will accept their request for additional funding, possibly with a percentage of monies from the down town parking meters going to their program.

The association (PADIDA) discovered near the end of 2012 that they would be receiving only $8,329.21 of the expected $24,000 from an annual provincial grant in lieu of tax for the government’s downtown properties.

“The province used to pay a grant in lieu for their properties in the downtown area, and they’ve just said they’re not paying that grant in lieu. So that’s affected our funding to the tune of closer to $30,000, over the last three years,” said Bob Gill, co-ordinator of the Main Street program, with PADIDA.

That amount has shrunk annually from the 2010 high of $32,489.28.

“This year we were down to $8,000 and next year we are probably budgeting nothing,” he said.

PADIDA hosts annual events, such as the Street Fair and intends to follow through with this year’s events. However, the loss of funds may prove problematic.

They sent a letter to city hall requesting alternate funding and it was read in council on Monday night, however no decision was reached and it has been moved to council next Monday for further review.

Gill suggested the possibility of using a portion of the monies from the downtown parking meters going to their program.

Founded in 2004, PADIDA has been working on the downtown core for a few years now.

“The goals were to have a better voice for downtown, to revitalize it, just get it to be a happening place again … most downtowns in a lot of the cities have deteriorated over the years with the addition of malls and the larger box stores,” Gill said.

“We’ve got such great heritage and history … and a lot of the local small businesses and that are still here with a lot of unique shops, so we just wanted to really stress to people how important that part of our history is,” he said.

“If we can have fewer vacancies down there then it’s better taxes coming in for the city, it’s better employment and that, so our economic development committee kind of works on trying to fill the vacancies,”

It has been somewhat successful but there is a ways to go, with many storefronts still dark hollows.

“It’s a slow process,” he said.

“This upcoming summer we’ll see some changes in the downtown area for sure,” Gill said.

Joe Day, director of the Financial Services Department at City Hall, explains how the funds previously going to PADIDA are no longer to be found.

“The provincial government, being a senior level of government … they are not subject to taxation at all … We as a municipality cannot tax them so they are by virtue, they’re exempt of taxation and then through their policies, determine whether they will pay the full amount to the municipality in the form of a grant or in payment, instead of taxes,” Day said.

“There are different departments in the province and each has its own policy on how it pays an amount in lieu of taxes and the department that owned what we know of as the Mac Mall did pay an amount in lieu of taxes,” Day said.

The building got transferred over to another department towards the end of 2011.

The Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District Association (PADIDA) is looking to make up $16,000 in lost provincial grants but civic parking meters might not be the answer they’re looking for. The association (PADIDA) discovered near the end of 2012 that they would be receiving only $8,329.21 of the expected $24,000 from an annual provincial grant in lieu of tax for the government’s downtown properties. “The province used to pay a grant in lieu for their properties in the downtown area, and they’ve just said they’re not paying that grant in lieu. So that’s affected our funding to the tune of closer to $30,000, over the last three years,” said Bob Gill, co-ordinator of the Main Street program, with PADIDA. That amount has shrunk annually from the 2010 high of $32,489.28. “This year we were down to $8,000 and next year we are probably budgeting nothing,” he said. PADIDA hosts annual events, such as the Street Fair and intends to follow through with this year’s events. However, the loss of funds may prove problematic. They sent a letter to city hall requesting alternate funding and it was read in council on Monday night, however no decision was reached and it has been moved to council next Monday for further review. Gill suggested the possibility of using a portion of the monies from the downtown parking meters going to their program. Founded in 2004, PADIDA has been working on the downtown core for a few years now. “The goals were to have a better voice for downtown, to revitalize it, just get it to be a happening place again … most downtowns in a lot of the cities have deteriorated over the years with the addition of malls and the larger box stores,” Gill said. “We’ve got such great heritage and history … and a lot of the local small businesses and that are still here with a lot of unique shops, so we just wanted to really stress to people how important that part of our history is,” he said. “If we can have fewer vacancies down there then it’s better taxes coming in for the city, it’s better employment and that, so our economic development committee kind of works on trying to fill the vacancies,” It has been somewhat successful but there is a ways to go, with many storefronts still dark hollows. “It’s a slow process,” he said. “This upcoming summer we’ll see some changes in the downtown area for sure,” Gill said. Joe Day, director of the Financial Services Department at City Hall, explains how the funds previously going to PADIDA are no longer to be found. “The provincial government, being a senior level of government … they are not subject to taxation at all … We as a municipality cannot tax them so they are by virtue, they’re exempt of taxation and then through their policies, determine whether they will pay the full amount to the municipality in the form of a grant or in payment, instead of taxes,” Day said. “There are different departments in the province and each has its own policy on how it pays an amount in lieu of taxes and the department that owned what we know of as the Mac Mall did pay an amount in lieu of taxes,” Day said. The building got transferred over to another department towards the end of 2011. “(An) amount in lieu means an amount instead of … so they pay an amount in lieu of taxes. Typically it is based on what the normal taxation level would be, but they do have the option to pay on a different formula,” Day said. “We can’t tax them, so they basically get to tell us how much we will receive … typically it’s pretty good. They pay all components of what a regular taxpayer would, but in this instance, apparently they do not,” Day said. “Right now there’s obviously the coin revenue that comes in from the meters and then there’s the violation or ticket revenue,” Day said. However that money is largely spoken for. “We recently purchased new meter heads … now we have all new standardized electronic ones and we’re actually paying for them over a period of years, I think there’s another three years to pay on those. So the revenue that’s coming in … in essence a good chunk of that parking meter revenue is going to paying of those new meters and then a good chunk of the violation revenue goes to pay a lot of our other operating costs,” Day said. “There is some revenue that does go to … general revenue of the city … typically there is. We hope that there is, we budget it to always be, but at the time that we are right now paying those meters off, there isn’t as much as what typically there could be,” he said. While the operational costs are in short supply at present, another aspect of the revitalization program is in good shape. The primary project Gill heads is the Main Street project, consisting of him as co-ordinator plus 28 volunteers, working over three years to improve the overall look of downtown. “The main street is the capital funding that we get from the year government of $50,000 per year,” he said. That funding began in 2012 and will continue through 2014 for a total of $150,000 over three years, plus another $75,000, which goes toward administration costs. “That can cover up to 50 per cent of the cost of somebody doing a façade improvement. So if somebody wants to put on an awning or replace some brickwork or windows or doors, the exterior part, we may be able to pick up half the cost,” Gill said. “As an example, if it’s a $20,000 façade improvement under the funding we may pick up $10,000 of the cost for it. So it’s a great opportunity for property owners to have a great chance to upgrade their buildings and get paid for it,” he said. “The biggest thing is maintaining our historical elements and the features we have in the down town area here. So if somebody wanted to go out and paint bright purple or something, chances are we are not approving a project like that. But the colours that were used back in the day, you know ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, things like that, and there is a lot of brick work. Those projects would be all approved.” Joe Day, director of Financial Services Department at City Hall.

“(An) amount in lieu means an amount instead of … so they pay an amount in lieu of taxes. Typically it is based on what the normal taxation level would be, but they do have the option to pay on a different formula,” Day said.

“We can’t tax them, so they basically get to tell us how much we will receive … typically it’s pretty good. They pay all components of what a regular taxpayer would, but in this instance, apparently they do not,” Day said.

“Right now there’s obviously the coin revenue that comes in from the meters and then there’s the violation or ticket revenue,” Day said.

However that money is largely spoken for.

“We recently purchased new meter heads … now we have all new standardized electronic ones and we’re actually paying for them over a period of years, I think there’s another three years to pay on those. So the revenue that’s coming in … in essence a good chunk of that parking meter revenue is going to paying of those new meters and then a good chunk of the violation revenue goes to pay a lot of our other operating costs,” Day said.

“There is some revenue that does go to … general revenue of the city … typically there is. We hope that there is, we budget it to always be, but at the time that we are right now paying those meters off, there isn’t as much as what typically there could be,” he said.

While the operational costs are in short supply at present, another aspect of the revitalization program is in good shape.

The primary project Gill heads is the Main Street project, consisting of him as co-ordinator plus 28 volunteers, working over three years to improve the overall look of downtown.

“The main street is the capital funding that we get from the year government of $50,000 per year,” he said.

That funding began in 2012 and will continue through 2014 for a total of $150,000 over three years, plus another $75,000, which goes toward administration costs.

“That can cover up to 50 per cent of the cost of somebody doing a façade improvement. So if somebody wants to put on an awning or replace some brickwork or windows or doors, the exterior part, we may be able to pick up half the cost,” Gill said.

“As an example, if it’s a $20,000 façade improvement under the funding we may pick up $10,000 of the cost for it. So it’s a great opportunity for property owners to have a great chance to upgrade their buildings and get paid for it,” he said.

“The biggest thing is maintaining our historical elements and the features we have in the down town area here. So if somebody wanted to go out and paint bright purple or something, chances are we are not approving a project like that. But the colours that were used back in the day, you know ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, things like that, and there is a lot of brick work. Those projects would be all approved.”

 

 

Organizations: Street Fair, Financial Services Department

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