Mlada wants agreement on direction for groups after flap over Rock the Harbor festival’s financial shortfall
Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada said Tuesday he plans to meet with officials from the city’s Business Improvement District and Port Washington Main Street Inc. as the city prepares to open its budget process next month.
“I view this as another opportunity to open dialogue, to sit together and see if we can reach consensus on the direction to take,” Mlada said.
It may take several meetings to reach a consensus, Mlada said. But if the groups can’t, the city may look at a range of options when it comes to funding Main Street.
“Where we go beyond next week is really an unwritten story. The options are all there,” he said.
Those options include dropping or trimming the Main Street contribution, limiting how it can be used or limiting how the BID tax can be used, he said.
The city has traditionally budgeted $25,000 annually for Main Street and levies a tax that brings in about $58,000 to finance the BID, which has also used the money to support Main Street.
While some people have suggested the city wean Main Street from the city’s annual contribution, Mlada said, he doesn’t believe the city will drop funding for the group.
“This has to be about a time of building rather than a time of turning back,” Mlada said. “The Main Street program has proven it can be very successful in mobilizing a number of volunteers, in organizing promotional events and in efforts to attract businesses to the city.
“I think we’ve shown you need to have some kind of strategic effort that’s really focused on bringing these to the downtown and to the city, and that’s largely been through Main Street.”
Tensions between the Common Council and the Main Street board were evident last week, as several aldermen called for the resignation of Main Street’s board of directors after the group lost as much as $15,000 on Rock the Harbor, a Harley-Davidson anniversary celebration, putting it in a financially precarious position.
Mlada, who is a member of the Main Street board, said he hopes the meeting marks a start in repairing the relationship between the city and Main Street — something that will be key if the city is to continue funding the organization.
“The council wants accountability. We have to be mindful of that,” Mlada said. “We have a responsibility to make sure we are the best stewards of the taxpayers’ money.”
Part of that, he said, will include expanding Main Street financing beyond the city contributions to an increased fundraising effort.
“We have a pretty significant gap in what we (the Main Street board) have budgeted for fundraising and what we actually raised,” Mlada said.
Last week, the Main Street board was told that although it budgeted $30,000 for fundraising contributions this year, it has only taken in $1,500.
The city’s Finance and License Committee will start reviewing departmental budgets the week of Oct. 7.