Niles DDA ponders tax levy

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- With increased activity in downtown Niles, it's perhaps no surprise the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is looking for alternative ways to raise funds.
But the possibility of losing current funding is also making the DDA look at possible future funding alternatives.
At a DDA meeting last week, DDA members and city officials briefly discussed the option of applying for a millage that would add to the roughly $50,000 the DDA currently collects in property tax from properties within the DDA district.
Terry Eull, city administrator, said the DDA under state law can ask for one mill, which for a property valued at $100,000 would be $50 a year.
A DDA millage, however, would only affect those who own property within the DDA district and would have to be approved by the city council before being implemented, Eull said.
And, a regular millage election would not be required for a DDA millage to pass.
City officials, roughly describing the boundaries of the the DDA district, said the DDA district includes the core of the city, Lakeland Hospital Niles, Riverfront Park, and stretches all the way up to Rite Aid on East Main Street.
Michele Boyd, DDA chair, said the option of applying for a millage has always been available to the DDA for capitol improvements and the topic usually surfaces once each year.
But so far, Boyd said, the Niles DDA has never taken advantage of the opportunity.
Boyd said she doesn't know whether there's a need for a millage now.
She also said it's too early to say whether a millage is even an option at this point.
If it does become an option, however, Boyd said the DDA would want to know how the extra funding would be spent.
Boyd, however, said alternative funding may be needed if the DDA loses funding for its marketing director position, which expires on Dec. 31.
That position is currently occupied by Lisa Croteau.
The DDA is currently applying for renewal of funding for that position through the Local Initiative Support Corp., (LISC) Boyd said.
She said if the funding isn't renewed, the DDA will have to look at different solutions for funding.
Juan Ganum, Community Development Director, said there is currently enough money in the DDA budget to cover the DDA's marketing position, which costs the DDA $30,000 a year.
But among those helping to do a lot to the downtown with little funds, Ganum sees opportunities with extra funding.

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