Huntington Beach

Inquiry into downtown group approved

THE HUNTINGTON BEACH City Council on Tuesday approved an inquiry into the financial records of the downtown business district (HB BID image).

THE HUNTINGTON BEACH City Council on Tuesday approved an inquiry into the financial records of the downtown business district (HB BID image).

By Jim Tortolano

A review of the finances of the city’s Downtown Business Improvement District was approved by the Huntington Beach City Council Tuesday night. The proposal, advanced by Councilman Erik Peterson, won on a 5-0-2 vote with Patrick Brendan absent and William O’Connell recusing himself.

Peterson told the council about some concerns that had been expressed to him about money issues related to the BID. “There were some discrepancies in financials which have been made clear,” he said. “I want to find out what’s going on down there.”

HB color logo letters3His motion was to direct the city’s finance commission to review the last three years of financial records of the BID and return with findings to the council. The district will be required to turn over any records the commission requests.

In the public comments portion of the meeting, Steve Daniel, owner of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on Main Street and president of the BID, told the council that there were accusations that the district had hidden money. “There is no hidden money,” he said. Susan Welfringer, manager of the BID, also defended the district, citing the events it sponsors to promote the downtown area.

The BID, established in 2006, is a special assessment district created by property owners and business operators for the promotion and maintenance of the city’s central business district in the pier and beach area.

Councilman Mike Posey supported Peterson’s request for an examination of the books, and wanted to extend the inquiry into what the true benefits of the district were in terms of how much additional business activity was attracted by the events it sponsored. That suggestion was not part of the approved motion.

According to the BID’s website, www.hbdowntown.com , the district sponsors Surf City Nights, Miracle on Main Street, Art in the Park and other events. The district has an annual budget of $450,000, of which $110,000 comes from the assessments, and the balance from other sources including revenue from events.

The finance commission’s report is due back to the council in 60 days.

 

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