A vendors booth at the Montrose Harvest Market on Sunday, August 12, 2012.

A vendors booth at the Montrose Harvest Market on Sunday, August 12, 2012. (Roger Wilson/Staff photographer / December 6, 2012)

The Montrose Shopping Park Assn. budget has, for the first time, surpassed the half-million dollar mark, the latest sign that the once-struggling business improvement district has turned a corner.

“It’s the biggest ever,” Dale Dawson, the association’s executive director, said.

For 2013, the group that promotes roughly 185 businesses along Honolulu Avenue in North Glendale has a budget of $525,917. That’s 23% more than its 2012 budget and 46% more than 2011.

“It seems to all be headed in the right direction,” said Mayor Frank Quintero.

The boost in income comes as revenue at the association’s popular Sunday farmer’s market continues to balloon.

“It’s why the profitability is ratcheting up so quickly,” Dawson said in presenting the budget to the City Council on Tuesday.

The change comes after the organization created an oversight committee for the Montrose Harvest Market at a time when it was reporting less than stellar numbers. Authorities allege that’s because former Councilman John Drayman, who helped run the market, embezzled at least $304,000 from the operation over roughly seven years.

Drayman was the only person who counted money brought in from the market before submitting it to the group’s treasurer. Many times it would take months before he turned in the income, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.

Now, there are multiple people who count the money and revenues are sent to the bank the day after the market, Dawson said.

Drayman, who is being represented by a public defender as his case winds its way through the court system, has maintained his innocence.

At the beginning of 2011, Montrose Shopping Park officials estimated the market would make $43,000. By the end of that year, it brought in about $141,000, and this year, it is projected to rake in roughly $165,000, according to a city report.

For 2013, shopping park officials expect to make an average $3,200 at each of the 51 planned markets, conservatively setting the market’s income at $163,000.

In addition to the market revamp, the organization has seen a filming boon as commercials and TV shows have flocked to the quaint shopping area. At the end of this year, filming is set to bring in about $39,000, well above the original estimate of $20,000.

Another change that helped bolster the 2013 budget is a centennial celebration planned for February. Although the business group expects to spend $60,000 on the Western-themed event, officials expect to recoup that investment through sales at the celebration.

“It’s a big, big event — the biggest we’ve ever done,” Dawson said.

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