Annual $140K SID budget up for approval

City Council is scheduled to vote on a $140,000 Special Improvement District (SID) budget for 2017 during its combined conference and regular meeting on June 12.

City Council introduced the 2017 budget for the downtown SID at its April 24 meeting via resolution (AR-114-17). A public hearing and final adoption is scheduled for the June 12 combined conference and regular meeting. The governing body also is scheduled to adopt the 2017 municipal budget that night.

The current SID has a tax rate of $0.351 per $100 of assessed value and generates about $130,000 in revenue, managed by the Rahway Arts and Business Partnership (RABP), with another $10,000 in revenue budgeted from the annual Taste of Spring event.

The 2017 SID budget is identical to the 2016 budget, which breaks down as the following:

  • $70,000 — executive team ($45,000, full-time business manager; $25,000; part-time artistic director)
  • $20,000 — programming
  • $20,000 — marketing/communications
  • $8,400 — rent
  • $7,100 — payroll taxes
  • $3,500 — accounting fees
  • $2,700 — insurance
  • $2,000 — office expense
  • $1,500 — attorney retainer
  • $1,300 — Internet expense
  • $1,300 — printing
  • $1,000 — utilities
  • $500 — bookkeeper
  • $500 — office equipment
  • $200 — postage

About seven years ago, City Council shifted management of the SID from the defunct Rahway Center Parntership (RCP) to the Rahway Arts District (RAD), which has since been renamed as the RABP. The full-time business manager position created last year splits time between the RABP and city’s economic development specialist position. Both the city and the SID contribute to the compensation.

In late 2015, City Council approved an ordinance (O-42-14) to expand the SID beyond the downtown borders, affecting 138 properties, and instead include all commercial properties within the city, more than 500 in all. The tax rate for the special assessment would be about $0.2518 per $100 of assessed value for the 544 properties in an expanded SID.

A citywide SID would have covered more than 500 properties, including industrial, commercial and some multi-family properties, generating $760,000 for improvements and programming.

A group of business owners filed suit against the city over the proposed expanded SID and in October 2015, a judge sided with the group, ruling against the expanded SID. The city appealed the judge’s ruling  and oral arguments were scheduled to be heard last month in the city’s appeal.

The SID was established in 1993 to “promote economic growth and encourage commercial development and improve the business climate.”