Creemore BIA pitches levy increase at upcoming AGM

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For the first time in recent memory the Creemore BIA is proposing a levy increase.

Property owners in the Business Improvement Area pay an annual levy, as legislated by the Municipal Act. In accordance with the Act, funds are used to promote the businesses in the catchment area and pay for beautification.

The BIA is proposing the levy be increased from $20,000 to $25,000.

President Laurie Severn, owner of Heirloom 142 and Lagom 142, said the BIA has been working on a levy increase during the current four-year term, to address rising costs and added responsibilities. As far as anyone can remember, there hasn’t been a levy increase since the 1990s, and possibly earlier.

“Our term is almost over and we would like to get it implemented before the next term,” said BIA treasurer Sara Hershoff, owner and publisher of The Creemore Echo.

The BIA is governed by an elected all-volunteer board of directors. Unlike some other BIAs, it does not have any paid staff.

The annual budget is used to pay for garbage collection and removal, floral planters, seasonal decor, weeding, tree pruning, and events, in addition to promotion and marketing.

The budget is supplemented by corporate donations and fundraising.

“But that leaves us vulnerable,” said Hershoff. “We would like to stabilize the levy for base level costs and allocate extra funds to the frillier things.”

She said the BIA keeps picking up responsibilities as the community changes and evolves.

“There is a lot of pride in the downtown and that is in part due to the work done by the BIA,” said Severn. “We want to make sure the downtown experience is a beautiful one.”

They point out that within the Creemore BIA there are no vacancies, people are investing in their properties, and the area is attracting new and younger business owners.

“We are proud of what we have done as a BIA. The strength of the BIA is a factor in the success of the village,” said Hershoff.

Aside from the legislated duties, they say the BIA also does a lot of advocacy, whether it’s for improved services such as street cleaning or connecting with other tourism promoters and community partners.

Members will be asked to vote on the increase as part of a budget proposal presented at the AGM on Nov. 22. There are more than 30 properties in the business improvement area, which mostly face Mill Street, from Wellington Street to south of Edward Street, and a portion of Caroline Street West. Building owners and tenants each get one vote and the levy is allocated to property owners according to MPAC assessments.

A change in directives from the Township of Clearview has forced the BIA to deviate from its own constitution and now requires the majority of all

BIA members to be present in order for the vote to proceed. The challenge will be in getting everyone in the room.

The AGM is will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at Station on the Green.

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