SCHENECTADY — The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation is set for another year of neighborhood beautification efforts and community events with the Schenectady Downtown Special Assessment District 2023 budget on the verge of approval.
A public hearing was held regarding the spending plan during the Schenectady City Council meeting on Nov. 28.
The Downtown Special Assessment District (DSAD) is set to collect $355,000 in an assessment levy of downtown businesses, with the money utilized by the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation (DSIC) for its annual operations.
The 506 eligible parcels in the DSAD will pay a base participation fee of $340 next year to finance DSIC programs.
The city council is required to approve the annual DSAD spending plan.
“They oversee their own budget, but they come to us because they have to raise an assessment,” Schenectady City Council President Marion Porterfield said following Monday’s meeting. “So they have to get our approval on that.”
DSIC Board President Heather Peterson noted that no city residents are taxed for the organization’s budget.
“Part of our budget comes from Metroplex funds and our own fundraising and sponsorship,” she said after Monday’s meeting. “The other part of our budget comes from an assessment that is placed on downtown businesses, not individual properties. So we need the council to approve that part of our budget. But as a courtesy, so they see how the whole thing fits together.”
Including funding from additional sources, the 2023 DSIC budget includes $909,907 in expenditures.
Peterson said the DSIC district extends from the Rivers Casino down to the General Electric plant and from SUNY Schenectady up to Nott Street.
“Within that district, we’re responsible for enhanced cleaning services,” she said. “We’re the ones who do the hanging baskets, the flowers, the medians, the mowing in Gateway Park. We’re keeping Schenectady ship shape in partnership with the city employees and Metroplex employees.”
Porterfield said the 2023 DSAD budget will appear on the agenda at an upcoming council meeting.
The DSIC hosts a slate of annual community events including Schenectady Restaurant Week and Downtown Schenectady ArtsWeek.
“All of the businesses contribute a little bit of money under a formula based on frontage and what the activity is,” Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said on Monday. “They pay for the flowers that are out there. They have the crews that go around and clean up. They do the Wing Walk and the Soup Stroll. They do a lot of activities to help market downtown Schenectady.”
The 2023 budget includes a $74,000 increase for DSIC programs, up from $882,657 in the approved 2022 budget.
“We expanded our district three years ago and as the city has expanded its infrastructure and built out medians and crosswalks, our work along with it has expanded,” Peterson explained. “We had been making due with our resources at the current level, so the expansion of our budget is really just reflective of the additional amount of gardening and landscaping work that needed to be done. In addition, what we’re really proud of in this last year is that we had some phenomenal new planting of flowers and sustainable plants downtown.”