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Foreclosures effect downtown owners’ association funding

Organization looks to become Certified California Main Street

POSTED February 18, 2011 8:22 p.m.

Since its inception in 2003, the Turlock Downtown Property Owner’s Association has facilitated programs geared toward revitalizing and improving the downtown area that have helped bring in new businesses and customers. But, with an uncertain economic future on the horizon, property and business owners alike will have to consider if they can continue to fund the association that has helped them grow.

The TDPOA is a public-private partnership between the association and the city that is governed by a Board of Directors. The association’s primary responsibilities are the maintenance and promotion of the downtown business district.

The funding for the association comes from an assessment fee under the Property Based Improvement District legislation that took effect in California in 1994.

The PBID allows for the creation of a special benefits district that can collect revenue for specific needs, such as streetscapes, parking lot and sidewalk maintenance, and promotion for special events that draw visitors to the district.

The TDPOA imposes an assessment fee that is based on cents per square foot with an increase of .025 each year, said TDPOA executive director Trina Walley.

The TDPOA currently collects the assessment fee from 58 properties and along with other sources, like special events, that will generate around $325,563 in revenue for the 2010-11 budget year. Out of that revenue, 42 percent will be spent on maintenance projects, 33 percent goes towards administration costs and 25 percent is for promotions, Walley said.

Foreclosure issues have had a significant impact on the TDPOA’s revenues over the last few years, Walley said because property owners do not pay their taxes on a building that is in foreclosure.

“We were down 15 percent last year and expect to be down 10 percent this year,” Walley said. “However, once those buildings sell, the taxes are caught back up. Eventually those dollars will still make its way to the TDPOA and we have plans to use them for maintenance and to bring the reserves up to the level we like them to be.”

The TDPOA also is considering taking steps to become a certified California Main Street District, which Walley said, would open doors to additional grant funding through various outlets.

The certification comes through the California Main Street Program and the downtown district has to meet their requirements.

The TDPOA’s assessment fee will be up for renewal in 2013 and will take a 51 percent majority vote to pass.

“I do expect that with the current economy that we will be looking at proposing a lower assessment to gain full support,” Walley said.

Only time will tell if that support is forthcoming.

“In general, out-of-town owners are not so enthused about the assessment and those that are more participatory in what the TDPOA does are the more supportive because they see the impact we make,” Walley said.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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