Is the city of Lincolnton getting ready to ax the downtown development program?
Brad Guth of the cityâ€™s Business and Community Development office is clearly worried. He has sent out a barrage of e-mail messages urging supporters to be present for the June 3 meeting at the James W. Warren Citizens Center to show support for the program.
Friends and supporters of the program are also helping rally a large turnout for the budget meeting.
But Mayor Bobby Huitt said Monday he does not see the city knocking Guthâ€™s department out of the budget, at least not this year.
â€œIf thatâ€™s going to happen, I must be blind,â€ he said.
Huitt acknowledged that questions have been raised about the departmentâ€™s funding, and that the issue may be more prominent next years.
Guth said detractors of the city program have the ear of City Council.
â€œWe have heard that this meeting is a referendum on the downtown development program. They (council members) are getting their arms twisted by political people.â€
Guth has not heard specifically from individual council members that his program will be cut, but heâ€™s still worried.
â€œAny time politics is involved, I get worried,â€ Guth said.
According to an e-mail message sent out to a large number of leaders in the city, cutting the program will â€œeliminate all of the downtown events, new business recruitment, leasing assistance and building improvement that the downtown program has worked so hard to development,â€ Guth said.
Guth said downtown is benefiting from the work of his office and those of the Downtown Development Association, the volunteer arm of downtown development. He said in recent years some $12 million in investments have been made downtown.
Some council members have expressed the view that downtown development should fund itself.
The department is budgeted for nearly $200,000 for the coming year.
Guth has attempted to create interest in a downtown service district, which would generate tax revenues for a downtown program, but that proposal was not well received by the downtown business community.
The budget hearing will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the James W. Warren Citizens Center. by Albert Dozier