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Decatur Development Authority Passes $1.2 Million Budget for 2020

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Decatur Development Authority Passes $1.2 Million Budget for 2020

Decatur City Hall.
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By Cathi Harris, contributor 

The Decatur Downtown Development Authority passed its budget for the 2020 fiscal year at its regular meeting Friday morning.

The budget projects total expenditures of $1.24 million with a predicted total revenue of $1.25 million.

The majority of the DDA’s revenue, an anticipated $750,000 comes from an allocated percentage of the city’s property tax digest. The authority gets 0.38 mills of the total collected by the city. 

Decatur property owners will notice the specific allocation as a line on their annual property tax statements. The city collects the money on behalf of the DDA and deposits the funds into the authority accounts.

“That is the bulk of the funding that the DDA receives, and we have some property that we own and management contracts for some properties that also provide an income,” Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne said after the meeting.

To see the full DDA budget, click here.

The development authority was formed by an act of the state legislature for the purpose of planning, organizing and financing projects in the city’s commercial business districts. To do so, they often purchase some properties to control development in key areas. 

In most cases, the authority will acquire property in Decatur and only hold it for a short time, Menne said. This ensures it is acquired by a business that the city supports and will be a good addition to downtown or the other commercial districts. For some locations, it makes sense for them to retain ownership and manage it.

For example, the DDA owns the properties at 113 and 115 Clairemont Avenue, which includes the Welcome Center and the storefront recently vacated by candy retailer Rocket Fizz.

The authority is in the process of looking at potential new tenants for that space, Menne added.

And, they are considering leasing to some smaller tenants who would share or divide up the larger space.

“We have that space to support smaller local businesses, particularly ones that aren’t restaurants, who would be a good addition to the Square,” she added. “It might make more sense for two or three different businesses to go in there than for one business to be responsible for the larger space.”

The DDA also owns the old train depot currently occupied by The Kimball House, which leases the building.

On the expense side, the DDA’s largest expenditure is expected to be $480,140 in management fees paid to the City of Decatur. This money covers a portion of the salary and benefits of city employees, including Menne, who support the DDA. The authority has a management services contract with the city, which stipulates the amount to be paid to the city for the services provided by these employees. 

Other major expenses include: $150,000 in professional service fees to attorneys and consultants who work on specific DDA initiatives like the office space marketing campaign and the Cottage Court development; and $141,000 and $135,418 for mortgage payments on the properties at 252 S. Columbia Drive and 113 and 115 Clairemont Avenue. The city contributes a portion of the cost of the mortgage on these properties.

The authority also provides some front-end support for many city events like the Decatur Beer Festival and Beach Party and is then reimbursed for some or all of those expenses, Menne told board members during the initial discussion of the budget.

For example, they often contract with third-party services for clean-up after festivals, but are then reimbursed by the festival for that cost.

“That way we are actually overseeing the logistics of a lot of these large festivals to make sure they are done the way we want them to be.”

In other business, Menne noted that the DDA board will also be adding two new members this year, as member Fisher Paty is stepping down. Board member Scott Kentner resigned from the board after moving to Brevard, NC, over the summer.

Board members are required to be owners of commercial property or have a business interest in the City of Decatur, Menne said.

Interested residents should fill out the statement of interest for the board on the city’s website.The City Commission will decide and make the appointments.

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