While Sidney town councillors hope that a proposed business improvement area (BIA) will improve the fortunes of local businesses, they won’t get rid of their economic development fund just yet.
The Town of Sidney started a $60,000 fund last year with the goal of sparking some economic studies, projects and, ultimately, cohesion within the business community. Almost half the fund was used in 2012, with some of the money awarded to the proponents of the BIA.
With $30,500 left in the fund, council debated recently to either drop it from their 2013 budget, or keep it intact.
Councillor Mervyn Lougher-Goodey said he wondered if the town should drop the fund and save the money and see what the BIA would accomplish.
“We need to keep in mind that the BIA isn’t certain,” said Coun. Steve Price. “Perhaps we should keep the money in the economic development line item.
Mayor Larry Cross agreed, saying council cannot assume the BIA — still in a counter-petition process — will exist. He added the town has an obligation to support local business in some way.
Coun. Tim Chad urged council to consider making a solid plan for economic development first, before throwing more money into the fund.
Council voted, 5-2, to maintain the $30,500 in the 2013 budget and $60,000 in subsequent years.