Downtown Lee’s Summit’s Community Improvement District Board has a mighty and constant task at its collective feet: caretake and be the best steward possible of a rapidly growing fund – the downtown CID penny tax.
One penny at a time, this fund has collected more than $680,000 in a little over two years. Even for those involved since the beginning, that number is staggering.
In its first month of collection, May of 2015 (from April sales), the CID brought in $16,609.29. By contrast, the May 2017 sales tax collected in June totaled $42,535.69. And while that total could include late or delinquent taxes, it translates to millions of dollars in sales in downtown Lee’s Summit – the second highest total of any month since the inception of the CID tax.
The monthly average in 2015 was just over $21,000. That number shot up to nearly $27,000 in 2016 and skyrocketed to a $37,234 average so far in 2017.
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Most importantly, these numbers point directly to a thriving and vibrant sales tax collection in our central business district.
Even when you subtract the City of Lee’s Summit’s cut (7.5 percent) and committed money granted to projects since its inception, the fund still sits at a cool half-million dollars as of June 30.
In one of the most encouraging signs of late regarding the CID, the board considered and approved five funding requests at its July 19 meeting. And these requests rode the gamut of benefits for downtown.
Local Troop 323 Boy Scout Jasper Norbury made a presentation to fund a geocaching project for his Eagle Scout in downtown at the August Fourth Fridays affair. His request for $500 was met with enthusiasm and support by the board.
Also on the docket was a $1,600 request by the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council to help offset costs spent on a promotional video. As overseers of this precious fund, the CID board had to weigh the downtown Lee’s Summit district benefits versus the other areas of town highlighted in the video. Ultimately, they decided to partially fund the costs at $1,000.
David Zak – otherwise known as the doctor of Christmas lights in downtown Lee’s Summit – is no stranger to the CID board, and those funds have helped create even a stronger lighting and decorative presence during the holiday season here. His multi-layered request was ultimately funded at $6,000 to give him some wiggle room for additional wreaths, trees, lights at the Amtrak station and other needs. It’s a sound investment as downtown is lauded year after year for its festive look around Christmas.
The costliest plan came in from the Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street Promotions committee as it looks to beef up its marketing efforts. The committee came armed with a plan that includes several media outlets, neighborhood publications, videos, banners and even ads at the movie theaters.
This is the kind of long-range marketing strategy that will continue to put downtown Lee’s Summit and its plethora of community events and outreach at the forefront. The proposal topped $20,000 and was approved by the board.
This particular item shows the best of the CID capabilities and highlights all the work put in over many years to make this a reality.
The final approval – $5,400 – was to continue funding the downtown gift card program, a program that has seen more than $24,000 in sales since it began a year ago.
The CID has a constant responsibility in front of it with these tax dollars. And, in turn, downtown businesses, stakeholders and investors alike should continue to bring innovative, exciting and creative ideas to the board. Ideas that bend our brains a bit. Concepts that cause us to see things in slightly different ways.
It’s what will keep downtown Lee’s Summit a vibrant destination and economic driver for our city.
Lee’s Summit resident John Beaudoin writes about city and civic issues, people and personalities around town. Reach him at email@example.com.