Downtown group requesting TIF funds for operations, mural festival
During their Aug. 16 meeting, City Commissioners will be asked to consider approving up to $154,509 in downtown tax increment financing funds toward operating costs for the Downtown Development Partnership.
Staff is recommending approval of the request.
The DDP is a partnership of downtown organizations to include the Great Falls Improvement District, Downtown Great Falls Association, NeighborWorks Great Falls, Great Falls Development Authority, City of Great Falls, Great Falls Public Library, Great Falls Public Schools, Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Neighborhood Council 7, the city parking and historic preservation commissions and Cascade County.
Typically, the DDP reviews applications for downtown TIF funds, but in this case, the DDP is the applicant so the request bypasses the agency and goes straight to the commission for consideration.
The downtown TIF fund has a current $3,894,228 cash balance, according to city staff.
The DDP is asking for $53,884 to apply to expenses in the last budget year, which ended June 30. The request includes $31,234 to pay for half of the costs of the downtown business development officer. The BID and GFDA cover the other half.
The downtown business development officer’s duties include visiting existing businesses to identify opportunities and challenges; identifying businesses and real estate developers to attract downtown; business development services; downtown investment marketing efforts; and more.
The position is an employee of GFDA.
The request also includes $14,650 in operating support, which includes $500 for membership in the International Downtown Association; $2,500 toward the downtown website; $2,850 in advertising; $8,600 for participation in the National Main Street Center trainings and webinars and up to $200 for miscellaneous operating expenses.
The request for the last budget year also includes $6,500 for completion of the wayfinding plan and $1,500 for the downtown traffic box art project.
Staff said in their agenda report that they can approve the funds as reimbursements, but recommend that going forward, the requests are brought to the commission before or at the beginning of a fiscal year.
The request being considered at the Aug. 16 meeting also includes $100,625 for the current fiscal year, which began July 1.
That includes $34,000 to pay for half of the costs of the downtown business development officer. The BID and GFDA will continue to fund the other half.
The request also includes $17,150 for operating support, including $500 for IDA membership; $5,000 for the website; $2,850 for advertising; $8,200 for participation in the National Main Street Center programs and up to $250 for miscellaneous operating expenses.
The DDP is also requesting $47,475 for ArtsFest MONTANA 2022, which is currently underway.
The estimated cost for each participating artist is $7,550 to $10,550.
The DDP request would cover about half of the costs for the mural festival.
The festival was established in 2019 with a goal of working toward eliminating graffiti and blight.
“Staff finds ArtsFest meets multiple goals of the Downtown Urban Renewal Plan including elimination of blight and promoting arts programs, events, and education,” according to the staff report.
The commission previously approved $12,000 in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 for DDP operations.
Commissioners awarded $5,000 in fiscal year 2019 and $10,000 in fiscal year 2018 for DDP operations.