Council passed a resolution last Monday to re-instate the administration budget for the Old Town Kemptville to the original amount of $20,510.
This decision reverses a resolution passed back in May to cut the administration budget of the BIA, which covers the cost of the Executive Director, from $20,510 to $13,750, placing the remaining amount into reserves. Council’s reasoning for this decision was based on a belief that the BIA had been irresponsible with their finances and had been overpaying former Executive Director, John Barclay, for his service, billed through his company Triune Productions Inc. “There’s not a member of council sitting here at this table that makes that money,” said Deputy Mayor Barb Tobin back in May. Tobin made $20,655.83 as a member of council in 2017.
The interference with their budget is unprecedented when it comes to the relationship municipalities have with BIAs. Typically, the BIA board is given complete control of the levy, which is funded through fees paid by businesses in the BIA’s footprint. Municipalities do not usually put restraints on what the board does and doesn’t spend their money on. This move also put an end to the successful pop up shop program which helped attract two new businesses to the downtown in 2017.
After several meetings between members of council, the municipality and members of the BIA board, Treasurer Stephen Bent made a presentation last Monday to ask council to put their administration budget back to the $20,510 mark. He says this would allow them to have more of a competitive advantage in attracting a new part-time Executive Director. According to their research, the average part-time BIA Executive Director in Ontario is paid approximately $17,910 annually. “This ensures that we have qualified individuals to better serve both the business members and support our volunteer board members,” he told council.
When it came to vote, the resolution to re-instate the administration budget was passed unanimously. Deputy Mayor Tobin thanked Stephen and the BIA Chair Debbie Wilson for meeting with staff about this issue, “I appreciate the time you took to move this forward and as the song says, ‘Let it go’,” she said.