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Council tied 2-2 to approve annual report of downtown Ceres district
downtown ceres 2019
Downtown Ceres merchants pay an assessment for the improvement and promotion of the shopping district. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

The Ceres City Council voted 3-1 last week when it came to the routine approval of the annual report for the Ceres Downtown Revitalization Area (CDRA) and setting a Public Hearing for June 28 to consider approving the assessment paid by downtown businesses.

The downtown district is projected to see revenues of $12,751 but was proposed to spend $35,855 from reserves. Steve Hallam, the city’s economic development director, said such expenditures are average. He explained that revenues and expenditures were running close together for many years but saw a decline in revenue because of COVID-19 impacts.

Hallam said that the $35,855 in expenditures is for three projects, which the CDRA board (Planning Commission) approved with the projection that the 2021-22 fiscal year would close out with a balance of $57,088. 

The three projects approved were:

• $15,000 to pay for half the costs of landscape maintenance in downtown;

• $16,000 for the Downtown Façade Improvement (DFI) program ($5,000);

• $1,000 for way-finding signage;

• $10,000 for a future downtown incentive program yet to be determined.

These supplemental activities, following input and study from downtown business owners, the Chamber of Commerce, the CDRAB, and City Council in 2014 and 2015 and 2018, were identified as positive efforts to improve the aesthetics of the downtown business neighborhood, increase foot traffic downtown, and enhance the overall shopping experience.

Other routine expenses of the district include changing out promotional banners and paying for electricity costs for downtown lighting.

Vice Mayor Couper Condit voted no against the report without giving an explanation.