Main Street Beatrice Grants Spur Funding Mechanism Discussion

BEATRICE – Main Street Beatrice will be getting funding for various projects, totaling about $13,500.  The money, approved by the Beatrice City Council last night, comes from both city funds and Beatrice Plus program revenue, funded by utility ratepayer contributions.

The level of funding has one City Councilman, Ted Fairbanks wondering if the city should return to a general fund budget allocation to the organization that promotes the downtown.

:47                  “annually”

City officials switched to a system of having organizations request funding for specific events to improve accountability.  City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said it was an issue of transparency.

:27                  “worked well”

Fairbanks contends a budget allocation to Main Street Beatrice would free-up Beatrice Plus program support for other purposes.

Funds approved by the council Monday night will be used for public parking lot improvements, trash receptacles, pet cleanup stations, streetscape improvements, downtown planters and for promotion of regular featured events held by Main Street.

Main Street Executive Director Michael Sothan says one request for which the organization did not receive Beatrice Plus funding support is for the acquisition of bicycle racks.

:31                  “secure their bike”

Sothan says Main Street can help fund the bike rack project but needs public support in those areas where the racks are on public right-of-way.   He says the use of smaller bollard-style bicycle racks may allow more of them to be spread out at key locations…near restaurants and other businesses.

Councilman Rich Kerr is concerned about the amount of money going to organizations like Main Street, and whether that is squeezing other groups out of a chance at the funding.  Sothan said the spending on improvements is aimed at improving the chance of getting new business.

:30                  “larger efforts”

Sothan points out that three-million dollars was spent the past year on building improvements.  But, he adds many vacant buildings are not ready for people to take over, for business.

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