Sunday, October 2, 2011

SID Budget Hearing Coming

A slew of legal notices in Saturday’s Courier News sets the stage for adoption of the Special Improvement District’s annual budget for 2011-2012 and marks the seventh year of financing city business promotion through a dedicated surtax.

The four ads include a two-page roster of more than 400 property owners to be assessed about 3 percent for SID purposes, a detailed budget, a resolution introducing the budget and notice of a public hearing scheduled for 8 p.m. Oct. 11 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

The budget includes $157,400 in new funds from SID taxes, advertising revenues and interest and will be added to a $100,000 balance for a total budget of $257,400. It will support management expenses of $84,000, office operations at $12,300, beautification and quality of life projects for $80,300, marketing/advertising at $45,000, promotions costing $19,000 and a reserve amount of $16,800.

Residents may be familiar with the SID through its magazine, Positively Plainfield, that is mailed to every household and by its downtown events and holiday horse and wagon rides. Other SID activities include a graffiti removal program and the recent installation of "welcome" signs at gateways to the city. The SID has also championed the use of security cameras in the central business district and regularly recognizes outstanding merchants and advocates of commercial enterprise in the city.

Originally based in the city’s traditional downtown, the SID was expanded in 2006 to include the South Avenue business district.

Saturday’s publications seem to indicate a better fiscal footing for the SID than in some past years. Even though it was created by city legislation, the SID has not always had the support needed from the administration and City Council. Past budgets have been subject to glitches and late passage, as reported in this 2007 Plaintalker post:

The Special Improvement District board realigned its budget to match the city’s fiscal year, which begins July 1. But the SID budget was not approved until December and the list of those to be assessed was only published March 11. It would have given the proper 10 days’ notice before a March 21 City Council vote, but the $1,370 legal notice was lacking one important column – the amount each owner was to be assessed.

The legal notice must be re-published and the vote may take place in April. By the time the money comes in, the fiscal year will nearly be over.

For the past couple of years, the SID has had the benefit of City Council liaisons to help smooth over any problems with city government. The SID used to have a match of its tax roll funds with Urban Enterprise Zone funding, but gave it up one year to avoid budget delays. No match is included in the proposed 2011-2012 budget. SID President Nimrod Webb and others appealed to the council in January 2010 not to approve steep health fee increases on businesses, which were then revised before approval.

Now that the city has decided to revert to a calendar year, the SID may have to follow suit. In addition, the tax roll published Saturday reflects some changes that may have to be accommodated, such as the conversion of a South Avenue commercial building to a charter school and the inclusion of some properties that are no longer viable as tax producers for other reasons. Plaintalker noted an assessment on Slongu Enterprises LLC for property at 187-91 North Avenue, which readers may recall as the site of an historic building that was demolished by the city under emergency conditions after the owner could not be located.



  1. @10:51 a.m.: Your comments and questions are not relevant to this post. I suggest you go to the next board meeting of the charter school and raise your concerns in public comment.

  2. Bernice - Just a few things -- the original SID established in 2005 did include both the downtown and South Ave. The SID's original program and mission was approved by the merchant committee involved in the process on the basis of two sources of funding -- their own self-assessment tax and UEZ matching funds.The UEZ money was approved for their first operating year but the city reneged for future years. At one point several city council members wanted to change their entire operation and have the city run it. The SID members resisted and continued on in spite of being betrayed and used their own funds to continue with the program. I am really proud of the hard work and dedication they have shown over the years. One final note -- unless the Charter school purchased the building on South Ave the owner of that commercial property must still pay real estate taxes regardless of the type of tenant they have.

  3. @Pat Fox: Thanks for your comment. I share your appreciation of the SID leadership.
    The owner of the building and the parking lot is listed as "Friends of Central Jersey Arts School."