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Jax Daily Record Thursday, May. 29, 201412:00 PM EST

DIA wants city to pay fair share for Downtown Vision

by: David Chapman

When Downtown Vision Inc. leadership heads to City Council in the coming months for budget approval, they’ll have the backing of another Downtown group.

The Downtown Investment Authority passed a resolution Wednesday supporting the group’s proposed $1.2 million budget.

That includes a $464,000 city contribution — up from the $312,000 it received in the current fiscal year — and would represent the “fair share” of property taxes the city would pay on its own commercial property. DVI is annually funded through the city by an additional 1.1-mill property tax assessment.

The $152,000 increase represents the new courthouse’s assessed value increasing the value of other city property within the DVI area. As the largest property owner, the city receives the same services, such as trash cleanup, that private owners do.

And that additional funding would largely go toward maintaining the organization’s ambassador program. The orange-shirt clad workers handle litter, maintenance of planted foliage and sidewalk cleanup.

“We heard from property owners that clean and safe is what’s important to them,” Bill Prescott, DVI’s treasurer, told the authority board.

Funding for city properties broke from the agreed-upon 1.1 mills in the past several years, he said. Prescott and Terry Lorince, DVI’s executive director, attended Wednesday’s meeting to make the budget presentation.

If funded at $464,000, the city’s contribution represents about 37 percent of the group’s budget. The tax from business owners totals $684,000 and makes up the largest portion at 55 percent.

While questions of the group’s role in marketing and homeless efforts were brought up, most of the almost hour-long discussion concentrated on the semantics of the resolution itself. In the end, it was decided wording should include language referencing the city paying the 1.1-mill assessment and endorsing the “fair share” idea.

The board formed a committee of Chairman Oliver Barakat, Vice Chair Jim Bailey (publisher of the Daily Record) and member Jack Meeks to review the authority’s budget heading into next year and ensuring current-year funding has been appropriated.

It also formed a group to elect next year’s leaders. Board member Craig Gibbs will lead the committee and will be tentatively joined by members Kay Harper, Mike Saylor, Tony Allegretti and Meeks.

Leadership transitions July 1.

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