Aldermen praise restructured agreement they say will improve relationship between city, downtown group
The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday approved an operating plan for the Business Improvement District that aldermen said will lead to better relations with Port Main Street Inc., which is funded in large part by the BID.
“I really think some real progress has been made,” Ald. Dan Becker said. “I like what I see here in the operating plan.
“What happened a few months ago with Main Street financially is unfortunate. When bad things happen, there are consequences. But I feel some time has passed. It would be nice to have some healing.”
Ald. Mike Ehrlich added, “I think we can finally move on.”
Relations between the city and Main Street deteriorated after Rock the Harbor, a Harley-Davidson anniversary celebration in August that plunged the organization into debt, even though festival organizers had pledged not to use any Main Street funds for the event.
Aldermen initially called for the Main Street board to resign, and ultimately voted not to make the city’s annual $25,000 contribution to the organization in 2014.
But the proposed BID plan calls for enough oversight of Main Street that officials said they may reinstate the city contribution to the organization in the future.
“BID and Main Street are important to our city and our downtown,” Becker said. “Hopefully the city will continue to fund Main Street down the road.”
The BID operating plan calls for the organization to retain about $5,000 of the $60,000 it receives from the city through a tax on downtown properties, with the remaining money used to finance Main Street’s operations.
However, the plan also requires Main Street to address the $5,000 deficit expected at the end of 2013 and to work more closely with the BID board than it has in the past.
“The issues the council had concerns about, I think, have been addressed,” City Administrator Mark Grams said, noting the BID board is committed to keeping a close watch on Main Street’s finances and its review process is a good one.
“I think the BID board has developed a good operating plan, and I think the Main Street board has done a good job, too.”
“I’m encouraged by what I see here,” Ald. Dave Larson, chairman of the Finance and License Committee, said. “I think it’s a good, solid plan.”
Had it been in place originally, Larson said, many of the issues that plagued Main Street this past year likely could have been avoided.
“I really appreciate the hard work the entire BID board has put into creating this plan. The board took to heart the
council’s concerns,” Ald. Doug Biggs, a member of the Finance and License Committee, said. “I’m very impressed by the work they did.”
Larson said the agreement paves the way for the city, BID and Main Street to work together in the future.
“We have to remember we’re all on the same page when it comes to where we want to go,” he said. “We as a council need to be part of the solution. We have the same goal of improving downtown Port Washington. I look forward to an improved relationship between all three groups.
“Thank you for keeping this thing going.”