City to mull taking the wheel for PLJ
by Adriane Tillman
Nov 21, 2009 | 1446 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
La Jolla may see its Business Improvement District (BID) up and running by next year but in an altered form: the city will administer the BID for a fee and Promote La Jolla will act in advisory capacity to the city.

Or, at least this is the proposal on the table, which City Council will discuss on Nov. 23 and Dec. 8.

“The main point is that there will be a BID,” said Promote La Jolla Chair Rick Wildman. “Everything would have come to a screeching halt without this. It’s really a creative solution.”

Wildman appeared before City Council on Sept. 21 to request the council vote on the future of the La Jolla BID despite the ongoing investigation into Promote La Jolla. City officials gave Promote La Jolla two choices: allow the city to administer the BID through the remainder of the fiscal year until June 30, or wait until the investigation is resolved. The Promote La Jolla board opted for the first solution.   

City Council will have to approve the $130,000 budget for 2010, and authorize the city treasurer to retroactively assess business fees from July 1, 2009 to the present. In fiscal year 2009, the city collected $128,465 from the business district.

“Please bear in mind that having city staff take on this role is an interim course; therefore we would not be entering into any long-term agreements,” wrote Meredith Dibden Brown, manager of the city’s Office of Small Business, in an Oct. 28 e-mail to Wildman. 

City staff will take $16,000 from the budget to handle the paperwork for the group, which will include executing purchase orders, processing requests for payment, monitoring work performed and meeting with Promote La Jolla. The city treasurer will charge $1,500 for billing. The city will also have to approve the vendors hired by Promote La Jolla.   

The budget will also provide $26,000 for Promote La Jolla to establish a business office and continue to pay its part-time accountant, Miriam Bakhsh. A full-time executive director will not be hired.

The 2010 budget includes $35,000 for holiday decorations and the installation of 100 new hanging baskets. Sidewalk cleaning, trash removal, bench repair and watering the hanging baskets is set to receive $32,000. Proposed funding also includes $14,000 for Website and printing, and $4,000 for special events. 

“The plan… will enable the community to continue these ongoing projects without having to resort to ongoing requests for funds and volunteer work projects from members of the community at large, many of whom are exhausted at this point in time,” wrote Wildman in an Oct. 28 e-mail to Dibden Brown. 

Promote La Jolla landed in hot water last July after the city audited the group and found it had over-billed the city, as well as defaulted on a loan on a separate foundation the group had set up.

In August, the police department’s financial crime detectives seized documents and other materials from the office of former president Deborah Marengo related to the audit of Promote La Jolla.
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