Gloversville Downtown Business Improvement District to dissolve

PHOTOGRAPHER:
From left; Gloversville Downtown Business Improvement District Board of Directors Treasurer RoseAnn Lauria and Vice President William Rowback Jr. and Gloversville Mayor Vincent DeSantis on Thursday review ballots cast by downtown property owners on the dissolution of the BID. The BID is expected to dissolve after the majority of property owners within the BID district voted in favor of the organization’s discontinuation. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Downtown Business Improvement District is expected to dissolve after the majority of property owners within the BID district voted in favor of the organization’s discontinuation.

Members of the BID Board of Directors on Thursday reviewed ballots that had been sent by certified mail to downtown property owners last month putting the BID’s future to an official vote.

Of the 52 ballots sent out to eligible voters, the owners of 29 properties voted to dissolve the BID, while three property owners voted against disbanding the organization. BID Board of Directors Treasurer RoseAnn Lauria noted that four of the mailed out ballots had been returned as undeliverable, while 16 property owners never returned their ballots.

In order for the BID to be dissolved, more than 50 percent of the taxpaying property owners in the BID footprint needed to vote in favor of its dissolution or votes from more than 50 percent of the total assessed valuation of the BID had to be cast in favor of dissolution.

Thursday’s meeting was sparsely attended with only Lauria, board Vice President William Rowback Jr., Mayor Vincent DeSantis, City Clerk Jennifer Mazur and downtown business owner Brian Dorn present. Board Secretary Donna Kenney arrived as the meeting ended on a day where icy roads and sidewalks created hazardous travel conditions.

Without a quorum present to vote to make a recommendation to the Common Council to ratify the decision by property owners that the BID dissolve, it was determined that the board could vote to make a recommendation electronically via email.

The BID board and the Common Council are racing against the clock to formalize the decision to terminate the organization before City Assessor Joni Dennie must submit the city tax roll to Fulton County early next month to prevent inclusion of the annual 15 percent surtax on real property located in the BID district that funded the organization’s activities in this year’s tax bills.

In anticipation of this week’s decision, the Common Council on Tuesday approved motions permitting City Attorney Anthony Casale to request a recommendation from the BID board regarding the vote and to schedule a public hearing during a special meeting on Thursday at 6 p.m. on the local law the council will need to pass in order to ratify the BID’s dissolution.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Rowback said the email to board members seeking an electronic vote would go out later in the day requesting a response by Monday at 10 a.m. and he was on his way to City Hall to discuss with Dennie what she will require from the BID before submitting the city tax roll. Rowback will submit an official letter of recommendation from the BID board to the Common Council during next week’s special meeting.

Rowback said he was not surprised by the outcome of the vote, suggesting that many downtown property owners felt that they weren’t receiving enough of a benefit from the 15 percent surtax they paid each year to generate the BID’s approximately $23,000 annual budget.

“The BID district spoke,” Rowback said.

This feedback from property owners and from board members who felt the level of involvement from among the volunteer board was insufficient to continue growing prompted the board to put the BID’s existence to a vote.

The board was responsible for a number of activities downtown including putting out and caring for seasonal potted plants, maintaining Castiglione Memorial Park, constructing the micropark, supporting economic development activities and putting on a number of annual community events including the Southern Adirondack Wine and Food Festival, Chalk Art on Main and the Home for the Holidays Tree Lighting and Downtown Stroll.

Many of these responsibilities will be shifted to the city Recreation Commission which will be supported by City Clerk Jennifer Mazur who’s position was expanded by the city this year to take an administrative role over the committee as a city liaison to help coordinate and organize activities and other special events, as well as becoming more active in economic development.

As part of the BID’s dissolution, the organization’s remaining unattributed fund balance will be turned over to the city and will likely be assigned by the city to the Recreation Commission’s budget to support activities and events.

Rowback said he was somewhat disappointed by the decision to disband the BID, but is hopeful that activities to improve city and the downtown will continue.

“We’ll have to see what happens in the future,” Rowback said. “I believe in the city and believe there’s a lot of potential and future in this city, but everybody has to come together.”

By Josh Bovee

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