The Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association, which managed to stay afloat during the meager years of the recession and rising vacancy rates in the past, is looking forward to another 10 years of events, improvements and advocacy as the association members voted to continue the assessment fees needed to fund the organization.
The downtown property owners were issued ballots earlier this year to determine if they wanted to continue levying an assessment fee that is used to fund maintenance, special events and promotions and improvement projects.
The ballots were weighted by first floor square footage, meaning property owners with larger lots had more sway in the vote.
At Tuesday's Turlock City Council meeting the ballots were unsealed and tallied. In the end, 201,564 square footage votes — or 68 percent — were in favor of continuing the TDPOA and the Property and Business Improvement District.
“You just never know how a vote is going to go, so there is a degree of anxiety,” said TDPOA Assistant Coordinator Dana McGarry. “But we had a feeling that we were looking good.”
After the ballots were tallied and recorded the Turlock City Council voted unanimously to renew the Downtown Property and Business Improvement District.
Leading up to the ballot, the TDPOA board decided to lower the assessment fee back to the original amount of $0.3779 per square foot of first floor space in a building. A maximum increase of 2.5 percent per year will be calculated and added to the assessment fee, starting in the second year.
McGarry said the board carefully weighed the decision to lower the rate because it would mean the association is working with a smaller budget, but was favorable to the voting owners.
Downtown property owner Troy Thoreson said he had some reservation about the feasibility of continuing the association, but that the lower base rate convinced him to vote in favor of the continuation.
“It’s ironic that everyone says how much they love downtown and coming down here, but the full brunt of the fees and improvements fall on the property owners,” Thoreson said. “It would have been a hard sell for the property owners if that fee would have been kept at the higher rate.”
The TDPOA represents a seven block commercial district through Main Street and extending to the side streets. It was formed in 1998 and renewed in 2003 for 10 years. In addition to recruiting new businesses to downtown, the TDPOA has hosted such past events like the Christmas and Independence Day parade and Taste of Turlock.
With the new assessment fee the association will be working with a budget of $136,867 for the first year — an amount McGarry said will be put to use to bolster the downtown.
“We are in a good place,” McGarry said. “We have dedicated and active board members that have set in motion a mission statement that they can put into action and make downtown Turlock the best it can be.”