Landscape & Lighting
Update (June 5, 2019): WE DID IT!
We are thrilled that we will be able to enhance the maintenance in the downtown district due to the successful vote of property owners! While we are victorious, we still have work to do together moving forward.
On behalf of the Downtown Business Association, its Board of Directors, merchant members, and staff, we are grateful for all the effort put forth by our dedicated city staff and city council during the balloting process. A huge thank you to Liam and Liz for their guidance, dedication, and insight on this long sought and important goal for the district.
We'd also like to thank the Downtown Association's Landscape & Lighting Committee: Donna Layburn, Steve Busse, Ron Mooney, Rich Krinks, Kyle Conner, and Janet Magleby. Their diligence and hard work are inspiring. A special thanks to Maureen Erwin for her thoughtful guidance getting us through this project.
We especially thank all the property owners that took the time to cast a "yes" vote in support of keeping the downtown district "Clean,Green, and Safe."
Important Message from our Board
Challenge and Opportunity - Doing This Together!
The Downtown is thriving; busy streets, bustling crowds, new and exciting events from Art to Whiskey to Cocoa Strolls. Our Executive Director and great staff have given us new energy, ideas, and execution. Exciting new businesses have come to and are on the horizon for downtown. But we have some challenges with regards to keeping our district clean, green, and safe.
What's the Challenge? The current Landscape & Lighting assessment does not meet the cost of current services.
What does this mean? Well, it's about the pickup of trash in our entire district, regularly. It's about removal of graffiti on public benches, sidewalks, and bulb-outs. It's about regular cleaning of our 4 miles of sidewalks, and power washing regularly. It's about landscaping; pulling weeds and watering planted areas and trees. It's about our street lights. It's about dealing with gum removal. Mostly it's about, looking clean, inviting, and well-maintained.
Now, none of us like special assessments or the idea of raising them, but the money that should pay for all of this comes from the property owner-approved assessment for parcels in our district called "Landscape and Lighting" (L&L) that is charged to PROPERTY OWNERS on their property tax bills.
This L&L special assessment has been the same amount of money for almost a quarter of a century. Longer than a lot of our employees have been on this earth most of us have been in business. Every year, our district runs short of the funds in these L&L coffers to do even the very limited, superficial job of many of the tasks listed above.
The L&L was formed in 1984, with no built-in inflator. It has seen little increase since laws changed in the mid-1990s. As a result, we’re still trying to do the same maintenance job with the same amount of money since 1995. Additionally, the City will have to reduce services in the coming years due to the lack of a fund balance.
We are not the same district we were 23 years ago. We’re attracting new visitors and residents by the thousands as wells as earning our historic, hip, and worth the trip reputation.
What's the Opportunity? Early next year (2019) this will be coming to a vote of the property owners. Our opportunity is to work together to get the assessment increased so we can all be proud of our historic downtown district.
It's an opportunity for us to communicate with one another about the importance of this increase. Communicate to our neighboring businesses, to our property owners, to our City Public Works administrators and our partners to work together to make sure an increase in the L&L assessment passes.
This is intended to be a "heads up" communication of what's on the horizon and its importance. Expect updates, discussions and the inevitable details in the months ahead. There will be communications with the property owners for which your input will be essential. There will be a survey shortly to both property owners and all businesses to get feedback on what's important and what we value in all of this.
If you've gotten to the end, thank you for your time and consideration.
- The cleanliness of our downtown is contingent upon the L&L Assessment paid by Property Owners.
- The L&L Assessment was established to cover costs above and beyond general City services, including routine maintenance services in public areas, landscaping, holiday decorations and banners, electrical costs, and capital improvements.
- The L&L Budget has seen little increase since its inception in 1984 and has remained the same since the mid 1990s due to law changes and no built in annual inflator/CPI increase.
- L&L Assessments at their current level can no longer cover the cost of basic maintenance in our district (litter clean up, sidewalk sweeping, cleaning of street furniture, litter can maintenance, and graffiti removal). The cost of maintaining the district now exceeds the annual L&L Budget and there is no fund balance.
- Increased assessments would fund improved maintenance including sidewalk cleaning, more thorough maintenance of the public litter cans, more frequent tree pruning, regular updating of landscaping and seasonal holiday decorations, and establishing and maintaining healthier reserves for the zone.
- The average assessment of Property Owners in our district is currently $374.
- A vote of the Property Owners is required to increase the L&L Assessments. If the balloting is unsuccessful, maintenance in the zone will continue to decline.