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Downtown Salisbury asking for a little more money

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
Downtown Salisbury Inc. is seeking a slight increase in its annual appropriation from the city of Salisbury.
The downtown organization, funded by the Municipal Service District tax (48 percent), the city appropriation (35 percent), its management contract for The Plaza (6 percent) and private money (11 percent) has asked city officials to increase the annual amount from $90,000 to $98,500.
It would represent the first increase for DSI since the 2004-2005 fiscal year.
Salisbury City Council has been hearing requests over the past couple of months in preparation for budget discussions later this spring.
DSI President Dick Huffman and Executive Director Randy Hemann shared a table of figures showing where DSI stands in terms of an annual appropriation compared to like agencies in other cities.
It was behind Morganton ($410,722), Goldsboro ($291,358), Lincolnton ($199,900), Sanford ($150,000), Rocky Mount ($135,115), Wake Forest ($108,500) and Lenoir ($99,200).
Goldsboro, Lenoir, Morganton, Sanford and Wake Forest also have municipal service districts, but none brings in the revenue Salisbury’s does at $125,350. Salisbury’s Municipal Service District tax is 16 cents per $100 valuation.
Still, Downtown Salisbury Inc.’s annual budget of $260,350 puts it behind Morganton ($478,722), Goldsboro ($408,358) and Lincolnton ($286,900).
Downtown Salisbury increased its staff last year from 2.5 to three full-time employees and also enhanced its revolving fund activities.
Huffman said needs included staff development, continued focus on the revolving fund, Web site development and more community promotion.
Huffman also reported that last week was the deadline for development proposals for the DSI-owned Empire Hotel property.
Six strong applicants have submitted proposals, and Huffman said DSI has been “amazed at the response.”
“This is something that will happen,” he added.
DSI also has “serious interest” in its McNeely-Young building at 102 S. Main St. as a mixed-use development of residential and retail, Huffman said. The building is located next to Stitchin’ Post Gifts.
DSI also is trying to redevelop houses at 209 and 213 S. Lee St.
Other private projects on the drawing board or under way in the central business district include Summit Developers’ and Jake Alexander’s complete reconstruction of the former Yadkin Place at North Lee and East Council; the transformation of the former Friendly Cue pool hall into a Fisher Street theater of Piedmont Players; and the Ketners’ continued development of “RailWalk” warehouse properties in the 300 block of South Lee Street.
The downtown had six new businesses open in 2006-2007 and three business expansions.
Salisbury’s Municipal Service District tax base has increased from $31.5 million in 1989 to $45.5 million in 1995 to $72 million in 2007.
Since DSI’s formation, the downtown has seen $97 million in investment, a net gain of 943 jobs and 288 building renovations.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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