The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday evening, passed a resolution amending the Fiscal year 2012 Budget. The move followed a public hearing on the matter, during which no comments were received or heard. As mentioned earlier during our previous report on KJAN, City Administrator Doug Harris summed up the areas where the changes were to be made. They included Public Works, Culture and Recreation, Community and Economic Development, and Enterprise, which includes Storm Water and Sanitary Sewer cost overruns and unanticipated expenses.
Councilman Shaun Shouse clarified what the amendment really boils down to. He said “We have to amend the budget to have the authorization to spend the money.” Most of the areas are items where there will be income to offset the expenses. Shouse said it is not “all new tax revenue…the money is there, but (they) didn’t anticipate having to spend the money,” during the current Fiscal Year. Therefore they have to amend the budget in order to have the spending authority.
In his report to the Council, Doug Harris said he was pleased to announce progress was being made on the S.F. Martin House on Poplar Street (a local bed and breakfast) the exterior of which has been an eye sore for many years, and other properties within the city. Harris said the City has been encouraging property owners to take care of their property, under the Minimum Maintenance Code, which the Council approved last November, and is designed to: preserve the quality of buildings in Atlantic; to help preserve property values; and to prevent the spread of “Urban blight.” It requires property owners to keep structures in reasonably good repair.
Harris said also, he’s been working with several entities, including the Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO), the Chamber of Commerce and USDA, to try and find funds to revitalize the downtown area, especially with regard to business facades, many of which are beginning to show wear due to age. He says there may be CDBG – Community Development Block Grant – funds available for those types of improvements. Another source of funding might be available to provide housing in the upper levels of downtown businesses, that would make those buildings “more viable,” according to Harris.
A meeting will be held at Noon on June 12th at SWIPCO in Atlantic, for downtown business owners, Chamber and other City leaders or officials, to explain what funds are available, how the process works, and how it could increase public and private investments. Darren Smith, Project Manager in the City of Woodbine, will be on-hand at the meeting as well, to explain the requirements and other related matters. A couple of years ago, Woodbine was awarded a $500,000 Downtown Revitalization Community Development Block Grant as part of a $900,000 Façade Master Plan to renovate 23 buildings in the City’s Main Street District. (For more information on that project, go to http://www.woodbineia.org/main-street-chamber)
Harris said grant applications aren’t due until January 2013, so there is time to take a close look at how to proceed with any possible plans for downtown revitalization.