As the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. has improved its financial footing over the past few years, board members who control the business promotions group are considering a one-time rollback of fees they charge to local businesses.
The fee break would give some respite to owners still struggling to bounce back from the protracted recession and restore confidence in the business improvement district, Board President Andre Ordubegian said at a meeting on Thursday.
The board has been working to improve its reputation among its membership since former Councilman John Drayman was indicted for allegedly embezzling more than $304,000 from the shopping park’s weekly farmer’s market, which he helped run. Drayman is currently out on bail awaiting his criminal trial.
Joining the association is mandatory for anyone who owns a business in the shopping park, which stretches throughout the Honolulu Avenue area.
“If we give a break to our merchants, it will create the feeling of ‘Hey, we’re listening to you,’” said Ordubegian, owner of Copy Network.
Ever since Drayman stopped working with the shopping park association, the business improvement district’s income has skyrocketed. The spending budget for 2014 was set at $443,000 in December, with assessments expected to come in at $135,000.
If the shopping park takes a financial hit from rolling back the assessments, the board could dip into roughly $89,000 worth of reserves. Most of the group’s income comes from the Sunday Harvest Market and assessments.
Business assessments vary, depending on a set formula, with a minimum of $190 and a maximum of $3,400.
The proposed reduction of the assessment could drop the minimum payment to $150 and the maximum to $3,000 for one year. After that, though, the assessments would increase on a regular basis based on consumer prices compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Other options could be on the table, too, as the board members tabled their decision until next month. At that meeting, they plan to look at a series of options for the discount, possibly providing more relief to smaller businesses than the big banks. They’ll also study the cost for each option.
Two out of the six board members said rather than rolling back the fee, the shopping park should use the money they would have returned to businesses on capital improvements, such as new trash receptacles.
“It’s a nice gesture, but it’s not a necessity,” said Kirk Gelsinger, a board member and owner of Zeke’s Smokehouse.
If the board chooses to change the assessments, their proposal would head to the Glendale City Council for consideration because the business improvement district is overseen by the city.