No business owners criticized the Downtown Lodi Business Partnership at the Lodi City Council meeting Wednesday, even though questions about the organization’s finances surfaced earlier this year.
DLBP Executive Director Jaime Watts gave her annual financial report to the council during the evening meeting.
In April, former board member Michael Warren had questioned bonuses paid to Watts at a council meeting.
Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce said she speaks with Downtown merchants on a regular basis and knows Watts has been working with the local business owners.
“There were some business owners who were not as happy as they could be. You went above and beyond to mend those relationships,” Mounce said.
The DLBP reports to the council every year before an assessment is levied on about 250 Downtown business, including retailers, restaurants, financial institutions and service and professional businesses.
The cost changes every year, but the assessment will be less than last year and ranges from $60 to $600.
The DLBP has a budget of $150,000 for the calendar year, which includes Watts’ salary of $47,100. The organization funds events like the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market, the Annual Parade of Lights, the “Stuck in Lodi” car show and the Downtown Trick-or-Treat festival.
At the meeting, Watts talked about the difficulties of having a “shoestring budget.”
“Though (the budget) is small and ever shrinking, we continue to accomplish great things, and bring together the Downtown business and instill a sense of community pride,” Watts said.
For the past nine years, Councilman Larry Hansen said he has watched businesses squabble over the DLBP’s role.
“I know it’s frustrating for you as a director. I know there are some businesspeople who feel like a lot is being done, while some feel not enough is being done,” he said. Watts said it is hard to manage the variety of opinions, especially when you consider new businesses are constantly joining the organization.
Mounce specifically congratulated Watts on the Farmers Market.
“It is amazing event, which I think defines Lodi. Our farmers market is talked about throughout the Central Valley, and to be able to do that with the budget and personality challenges is a tough job,” she said.
The city will hold a public hearing on Sept. 7 to consider the proposed annual assessment.