Downtown merchants will be paying an estimated $16,000 in assessments to a district during the 2014-15 fiscal year designed to improve downtown.
In years past, past practice has dictated that money goes to the city to hang and take down seasonal banners, maintain street trees and landscaping and pay the city's electricity bill for downtown street lights.
However, the city is still formulating new projects to be funded by merchants' assessment money. A community group suggested in November that the funds be spent on façade improvements, assistance with building permit fees, directional signs to key landmarks and supporting signature events for downtown.
Although $16,000 is coming in over the year, the total budget for the Ceres Downtown Revitalization Area Board (CDRAB) is $35,230.
Steve Hallam, the city's Redevelopment & Economic Development Manager, said that more discussion will have to take place about the "way finding" signs and that they have not been ordered.
"The idea of way-finding signing is probably best driven when we have places in our downtown worth ‘finding our way' to," said Hallam. "I'm not sure that exists at the present time."
Last year Chamber president Renee Ledbetter suggested that way finding signs should list all downtown merchants to point the public their way.
Hallam noted that he hopes to present to the CDRAB board the framework for a possible facade renovation program by late September or October.
"That will be fun and I hope the start of a great program scaled specifically for our city and our funding realities/possibilities in a post-RDA environment," said Hallam. "I'm excited about this."
The workshop last fall also produced the idea that CDRAB should fund and install a hot water system at Whitmore Park to lend itself to more community functions in downtown. Hallam called it a small but important item since hot water is required by food vendors and could help bring back a farmer's market and other events in the park, which also brings more people into downtown.