Fremont City Council Approves Two-Year Renewal of BID, Division of City Administrator Role | Government and politics
COLLIN SPILINEK Fremont Tribune
Fremont city council unanimously approved a new two-year extension of the downtown business improvement district at its meeting on Tuesday.
âI just want to thank the effort that has been put into this section of the council, the public,â said Mayor Joey Spellerberg. “And I think that was just a good example of how we can keep moving forward and growing Fremont and moving forward.”
The BID, initially established as a board of directors in 2016 to develop projects for downtown Fremont, initially requested a new five-year extension of $ 66,000 provided each year, which was approved by both first readings.
However, a new two-year plan to keep the IDB’s annual budget at $ 48,000 was approved 5 to 1 by the board at its November 16 meeting after protests were filed.
Some companies opposed the budget increase and criticized the BID’s plans, which they said focused on the main street and not the edges.
President Tom Coday said the IDB held a meeting with all those who lodged a protest, which he said gave the board “a good contribution” and ideas for different projects to consider.
âIt was a really good meeting and it was good to talk to these owners and explain what we are doing,â he said. “They actually ended up talking a lot more than we did, but we listened to what they had to say and we changed the budget.”
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BID board member Vince O’Connor agreed with Coday on the effectiveness of having the meeting and listening to the audience.
âIt was set up in a bar, but no one had anything to drink until we were done,â he joked. “But it was really good.”
Pam Hopkins, whose law firm is located within the BID, thanked Spellerberg and the board for listening to the concerns.
âI think this two-year plan appears to be a good faith effort by the IDB and city council to address the scope and purpose of the IDB, and I welcome this compromise,â she said.
Hopkins also presented to the board the protests she has gathered from business owners as a benchmark for the upcoming BID renewal.
âAs the mayor and council move forward, I encourage you to carefully consider who you appoint to the board for this next two-year term and keep in mind that those who express their contempt and their rejection of public oversight and accountability doesn’t have to be part of a public council, âshe said.
Board member Mark Legband thanked the IDB for listening to the concerns and making the necessary changes.
âIt is time for us to move forward and all work together to improve the downtown area,â he said. âSo I just want to congratulate you for doing this. “
Board member Sally Ganem echoed Legband’s comments on the budget change.
âIt takes a lot of courage to meet people who oppose your initial recommendation, and I think it’s good to open the dialogue,â she said.
Daniel Cech, owner of Petersen Body Shop, said he believes the BID should have a more definitive plan for downtown improvement projects.
âTo get people to support this you have to come up with a plan and give them a sense of where their money is going instead of just saying, ‘Give us the money and we’ll decide what to do with it. ,'” he said.
Cech also said he believed the BID needed more communication between the board and those inside the district.
âI don’t think anyone downtown really doesn’t want or support the BID. I think it’s just that a lot of people in the demarcated areas of downtown have a problem with the way it’s been run and managed, âhe said.
Coday agreed with Cech’s comments and said the BID is also considering a double taxation plan depending on the location of businesses in the district.
O’Connor stressed the importance of having multiple avenues to work together, citing the $ 166,000 donation from the Fremont and Dodge County Convention and Visitors Bureau to BID, MainStreet of Fremont and the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce.
âI think what we really want to do is keep everyone happy, work together and move Fremont forward,â he said.
After amending the changes recommended by City Attorney Travis Jacott, the board approved the IDB renewal with a 7-0 vote. Board member James Vaughan was not present.
âI would like to thank the BID for their work and just for listening to the protesters,â Spellerberg said. âAs we look to the future of downtown, I think two years is a good time to be able to come together and really create a plan. “
The council also did final readings and unanimously approved several ordinances that would divide the posts of city administrator and general manager of public services.
Last month, city administrator Brian Newton announced he would retire on January 3, 2022. Spellerberg announced at the next council meeting that he would split the roles, both of which were held by Newton.
At a special meeting on November 16, the board conducted initial readings of the ordinances, which included amended wording for the new position.
Jacott said he had other small changes, including designating that the city administrator, the city attorney and general managers of utilities would be administered by a negotiated contract.
“This resolves a problem that some board members have had regarding the board’s ability to have a say over the officials appointed after their appointment,” he said.
The board approved the ordinances, along with two others adjusting their wage ordinances.
The council also approved a conditional use license for a day care center at StoneBridge Christian Church in conjunction with Pearl Academy.
Mitch Chitwood, executive pastor of StoneBridge, said the church realized it had “vastly underutilized” space during the week.
âThrough COVID, just like other businesses, nonprofits have struggled financially, so our church council has looked for other sources of income,â he said.
Chitwood said StoneBridge is familiar with child care because two of its Omaha locations also have preschools.
Pearl Academy co-owner Mary Katherine Hale said the center serves around 100 children.
âWe need more space and a better space to serve our children,â she said. “And so we’re really excited about this possibility.”
Hale said the space would act as an extension for Pearl and that the larger space would help, especially with older children.
âWe really appreciate your consideration, and I think it’s good not only for StoneBridge and Pearl Academy, but I think it will be a very good decision for Fremont,â she said.
The board also approved another conditional use license for the Shiloh Center, an adult day care facility. Legband abstained from voting because his wife worked at the center.
Council member Mark Jensen said he was “intimately familiar” with the property, located inside his neighborhood.
âThis is an area that I helped clean up during the floods,â he said. âI was in and out of this place for days, so this property is well suited for what they want to use it for.â
The council also approved a change of zone from general industry to general commercial for DPA auctions. Planning director Jennifer Dam said the change should allow the company to continue selling vehicles.
In other news, the board approved a settlement with former library director Tina Walker and technology park lot sales with Awesome Koncrete and Selectel Wireless.
During the meeting, Spellerberg also announced the November service prices, which included five years of service for Veronica Trujillo, civil engineer; 15 years for Edward Patchen, power station statistical technician, and Zachary Klein, fire lieutenant in the Fremont fire department; and 20 years for John Leffler, heavy equipment mechanic for the street department.
Spellerberg also thanked members of the public for attending this year’s downtown Christmas walk, which he said he attended with his family.
âIn fact, I’ve also heard great responses from people outside of Fremont,â he said. âSo this turned out to be, I think, a really big event for Fremont, and I want to thank everyone who helped make it happen. “