Board of Director’s Meeting – Minutes
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Location: online 6:30 p.m.
Attendees: David O’Connell (DO), Joe Taglieri (JT), Colin Best (CB), Eric Chabot (EC), Kristina Tesser Derksen (KTD), Troy Newton (TN), Miguel Gonsalves (MG), Rachel Shuttleworth (RS)
Regrets: Margaret Lara (ML), Sara Bergsma (SB)
DO called the meeting to order at 6:36 pm.
DO asked the committee if there was any declaration of pecuniary interest or conflict of interest. No declarations were made.
DO asked the group to review the previous meeting minutes.
- TN motioned to accept. MG seconded the motion. Motion passed
Treasurer’s Report – MG
- The only big variance from last month was $20k for landscaping expense that came through.
- Average monthly expenses for the last few months have been around $13k-$15k and are expected to continue at that level.
- Revised our budget due to COVID, and are generally on track with the revised budget.
- Projected carry-forward for the rest of the year is around $42k.
- CB moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report. TN seconded the motion. Motion passed.
- Construction now underway on pedestrian tunnel on Main St at Bronte.
- Bronte St towards Steeles will be under construction until mid-December.
- Culture Plan – Overview and information on the plan available on Town website. Currently asking residents about their cultural experiences in Milton to see where we should be investing in our cultural story.
- Regional Official Plan Review – Visit halton.ca/ropr to see reports related to the plan, open for comments from the public until end of October. Statutory meeting happening on November 19 to go over the next phase and narrow down options for growth. There are five growth areas in Milton and two in Halton Hills. In Milton, the areas are all to the south and east of downtown.
- Work on Tremaine Road overpass has started – channeling creeks, putting in storm water ponds, diverting Peru Road over to the new Tremaine & Third Side Road.
- EC moved to accept the Council Reports. JT seconded the motion. Motion passed.
Executive Director’s Report
Proposed 2021 budget
- Since last year our budget increased significantly (from $266k to $308), COVID happened and we adjusted budget down to $239k. Uncertain times – puts pressure on revenues. We are not hosting events so no sponsorship is coming in.
- Whether it could be harder to increase the levy in the future if we don’t continue with consistent increase – kept levy at same rate as in 2020. Optics of a levy increase this year is important to think about for the new budget.
- Highlights of proposed 2021 budget:
- Increasing investment in staffing
- Added an additional $10k to our events on top of the recent net spending we put into them
- Levy revenue is marginally increased, no other revenue expected
- Net shortfall of $30k and our surplus account can absorb that. If we are able to secure any sponsorship, the drawdown from our reserve would be less
- Shift in social media process in recent months, more efficient to have staff in office handle social media. Salary line increasing from $113k to $125k, moving dollars from the Contracts, plus some additional investment (approximately $5k). Contractor to focus on photography.
- Projecting a higher amount for tax levy rebates and write-offs due to increase in business turn-over and the impact of COVID. Small decrease in advertising dollars – focus more on online advertising. Once things open up, will have money we did not spend on previous events to run a ‘back to business’ event or campaign. Discussed Street Festival with Town and will explore whether to run it virtually. Heard feedback from BIAs who kept levies steady/very low on the challenges with staff retention, running events, rising costs, etc. Recommend replacing banners in 2020, not 2021.
- DO – Increase in the salary line is coming from the Contracts line with some new dollars. We are not getting revenue outside levy this year but still need to do things. Need to be prepared to come back strong once things reopen.
- JT – Levy increase is a total of $8k total across all the properties which is not a big number, but is this increase average for BIAs and how does our levy rate compare to other BIAs. Have received questions about the levy increase from the community – important to hear it allows us to better retain staff and keep up with rising expenses. Our property values are not the highest or the lowest in the area, and need to ensure our levy remains on par with others. The average lease on Main St. has a 2% annual or 3% biannual rent increase. The levy increase is higher. Need to be able to communicate our value.
- RS – I have heard from other BIAs through provincial OBIAA calls. Many BIAs doing levy increases this year but not all. I have seen a comparison of levy rates for some BIAs outside the GTHA and our rate appears to be on par.
- EC – Have increased the levy by 3.5% for several years. Inflation typically around 2% and for a lot of years before that we did not increase levy – hard to retain staff and had high turn-over. Had to accelerate beyond the rate that costs escalated to catch up. Commitment in recent years to use the levy increase to invest in good staff. Levy increase works out to around $80-$100 per building. This is a time that we need the BIA because we need people advocating for and driving people downtown.
- KTD moved to accept the budget. TN seconded the motion. Motion passed.
- RS – Coordinator has requested a pay increase – doing events, communications and marketing. Joined the BIA in November 2019 and doing a great job. Previous ED recommended a pay increase for her.
- DO – The board passed the 2021 budget, ED allocate staff dollars. EC – Board is supportive, no motion needed outside of 2021 budget.
- RS recommended redesigning banners in 2020 (vinyl banners on street poles), the total cost would be around $10k-$12k. With no large events in the works, good time to invest in beautification.
- Going forward, we need to ensure there is as some money in the budget for banner maintenance.
- MG – This will reduce our expected surplus for 2020.
- JT – Recommendation to also look at other larger projects, like a crosswalk at Main and Millside.
- Board supports the idea of replacing banners, RS to get quotes for the project.
- Exploring ways we can host a drive-in event in the Brown St. parking lots for the Holidays (40’ screen, FM transmission, participants stay in their cars). This likely works under the current COVID rules. Could accommodate around 60 cars in the lots (expect 2-5 people per car).
- Received quote from one screen vendor, will be reaching out to other vendors as well.
- We would need volunteers, we could add a charitable component, could charge an entry fee, could look at how to engage our restaurants so people can do take-out and eat in their cars.
- Italian Club hosted drive-in concerts this summer and have shared lots of insights with us.
- Base cost for the event is expected to be around $6,000 (screen, marketing, supplies, etc.), but additional sanitation and security requirements would put the total cost for the event higher.
- MG – There could be lots of risk associated with the event. Would need to work closely with Public Health and the Town on that.
- DO – Would need to offer washrooms for people, and look at requirements around cleaning and sanitation. Also, consider opportunities to engage businesses by offering give-aways to participants.
- EC – In Sauble Beach, porta-potties needed hand sanitizers and they were emptied as usual. Public Health wanted porta-potties six feet apart for social distancing. Find out from Public Health what the requirements are for Halton.
- RS – We would need to have a handwashing station, and may have to have a dedicated staff/volunteer managing the flow of people at porta-potties, and making sure people stay inside cars. Movie license included with price of screen vendor.
- JT – We would need to find out who would cover snow removal and how that process would work.
- TN – May not have a large impact on sales for all downtown restaurants. Could help those restaurants that are closest to the parking lot. However, events like this help drive people downtown and that provides exposure for businesses.
- KTD – The event would give people a chance to do something unique and novel downtown – it is appealing to be able to sit in the car and watch a money. Main St. would remain open which is good.
Digital Main Street Future Proof
- There are funding opportunities through Haltech to support main street businesses through community collaboration projects (tech-focused or not). We have discussed various project options with them. Projects would start November/December and this is an opportunity to pilot something over a four-month period. They are seeking projects that can be used as a model to help other municipalities.
- Seeking board feedback on these project ideas:
- Website redesign – improve navigation, add different components of the site, consider an e-commerce platform for our businesses
- Expanding/enhancing wifi – get additional access points, and/or adding new functionality
- Interactive screens on the street showing maps, marketing content and other information
- Raise garden beds – provides visual appeal, protects our receptacles, offers secondary seating for people waiting outside stores
- DO – We costed out digital screens in the past but we did not have wifi then so we could not move forward. We know what changes need to be made to the website and can do that ourselves.
- EC – We need shovel-ready projects such as digital screens (we received quotes in the past) and the expansion of the wifi network. For the flower beds, we could hire a contractor to do that work pretty easily, and could use materials that make it easy to fix if it gets hit by a snowplow.
- JT – Flower bed would look nice and help protect our investment in the receptacles. We could do some beds but not all of them if needed.
- RS to explore the following projects further: Raised flower beds, digital screens, wifi
- EC moved to accept ED Report, CB seconded the motion. Motion passed
- CB – Province just introducing the Main Street Recovery Act which would provide grants for businesses to buy PPE. RS to look into the program further and send information to members.
- KTD moved to adjourn. EC seconded the motion. Motion passed.
- Meeting adjourned at 7:46 pm.