Little interest at BIA public meeting

Only ten people attend­ed Nov. 23 for a pub­lic meeting on revised plans to expand the Erin Village BIA.

The new area will include 16 more properties, bring­ing the total in the Business Im­provement Area from 41 to 57. Charges will range from $150 to a maximum of 7% of the total BIA levy.

The previous plan, which was not well re­ceived, had an expansion to 89 members, with fees from $100 to $2,800. Cur­rently businesses pay a maximum levy of $400.

BIA chairman Shelley Foord said the village has grown since the BIA bylaw was passed in the early 1980s, and one BIA goals is to make levies fairer for everyone.

That is a far cry from the  60 or so who attended the Sep­tember meeting for the original proposal – most of whom were adamantly opposed to the ex­pansion.

“We learned a lot and I think we listened well,” BIA vice-chairman Jo Fillery said. She added the changes were made for the betterment of the community.

Alan McGeary, business manager of the Erin Gallery, asked at last week’s meeting about what changes were made, other than the geographic borders of the BIA zone.

Foord explained the total levy has been reduced from $50,000 to $37,000.

That caused resident Deanna Mac­Kay, a member of the town’s economic development committee, to wonder what portion of the $37,000 would be generated from the new area, and how much would come from the existing BIA.

Town Finance Director Sharon Marshall told MacKay she would have that information for her as soon as possible.

MacKay then asked how the BIA would distribute hanging baskets throughout the larger area. Fillery said she dislikes always discussing flower baskets because they are but a minor part of the BIA’s mandate.

Nonetheless, she replied there will be 30 hanging baskets in next year’s budget, as opposed to the usual 20. She said the baskets will be dispersed as evenly as possible.

McGeary noted there is $10,000 included in the BIA budget for the hiring of a part time clerical assistant.

He understands the position is now classified as a town position and asked if it would be posted on the town’s website and if the position is open to everyone.

Foord said the BIA will advertise for the position and post it on the website. She said there is no guarantee the BIA’s current assistant will be hired.

Council is expected to consider the BIA bylaw at its meeting on Dec. 15.

As noted by Mayor Rod Finnie, Erin businesses have until Dec. 8 to submit written letters of objection, otherwise the town will assume they are in favour of the revised expansion plans.