TRAVERSE CITY — A plan to hire a national consultant who could help shape the future direction of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority was approved Friday after council members debated the issue.
The DDA Board of Directors has approved a contract not to exceed $115,000 with Denver-based Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA) for consulting services to “help DDA identify future potential organizational and financial scenarios”.
DDA CEO Jean Derenzy said PUMA, which has been involved in efforts in downtown Grand Rapids and Detroit, will work with the organization on a “holistic approach that allows the organization to respond to the future needs of the DDA”.
The scope of advisory work includes DDA modernization opportunities, exploring a new “Tax Enhanced Financing (TIF) and business development plan that includes a new revenue sharing model and provides ‘alternative scenarios of potential funding sources’ and a detailed market assessment. , according to a memo in the council’s package. TIF 97, one of the DDA’s main sources of funding, is due to expire in 2027.
DDA Board Member Pam Marsh raised several questions about hiring the consultant, including cost and distance from Traverse City. Marsh also wondered “what was wrong with the initial strategic plan” the organization had already developed.
Derenzy said the DDA’s strategic plan is project-driven, but not visionary.
“We can’t just look at the TIF, we have to look at all the (financial) elements,” said Derenzy, who stressed that an exploration of the TIF “will not dissolve the DDA.”
Vice Chairman Scott Hardy, who served on DDA’s board for two decades in two multiple stints, said the organization has grown significantly over that time using the same business model. He added that the PUMA contract is “money well spent” and will help explore other ways to fund the DDA’s mission.
“Our strategic plan was about where do we want to go, not how to get there,” Hardy said.
In other matters during the one-hour meeting, the DDA board:
- Welcome new board members Michael Brodsky and Katy Bertodatto. Derenzy also announced that Art Bukowski started earlier this month as Director of Communications and Outreach.
- Failed to respond to a request from the DDA to take over the enforcement of employee parking in Government Center Lot L. Questions about licensing and signage need to be answered first, several members said.
- Modification of the rules of governance of the Farmers Market Advisory Board in order to reduce the number of members from 12 to nine.
Approved and authorized Derenzy to execute a $45,000 environmental assessment grant from the Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for the driveway along blocks 100 and 200 of East Front Street.
- Members appointed to various committees, advisory boards and commissions for 2022.