The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority has outlined its budget priorities for the 2021 fiscal year.
As in previous years, the budget aligns with GR Forward initiatives, but this year’s narrative includes special funds allocated to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Among the requests for FY2021 is funding to implement the recommendations from a number of completed and soon-to-be-completed planning projects, including the ongoing Grand River governance organizing initiative, the River for All design guidelines, the Disability Advocates of Kent County and its common notice report, and the downtown street space guidelines.
Additional funding also was recommended to complete and initiate major capital improvements to downtown public spaces, including Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle and the Van Andel Arena Plaza.
Carry-forward priorities from previous years include completing strategic planning for Areas 7, 8 and 9 parking zones, finalizing implementation of improved downtown transit shelters, continued funding to support retail businesses and completing installation of a public restroom in the Heartside neighborhood.
For FY2021 the DDA budget, which includes the local tax increment fund, non-tax increment fund and school tax increment fund, consists of both new projects from GR Forward and carry-forward priorities that span multiple fiscal years.
With the approval of GR Forward in December 2015 as an amendment to the city’s master plan, the DDA and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. have specific objectives and the proposed budgets are built around each GR Forward goal.
The breakdown by GR Forward goal from both the local tax increment and non-tax increment budgets is as follows:
- Goal 1 (restore the river as the draw): $1,775,000
- Goal 2 (create a true downtown neighborhood home to a diverse population) $1,615,000
- Goal 3 (21st century mobility strategy): $2,880,000
- Goal 4 (ensure job opportunities and ensure vitality of the local economy) $1,485,000
- Goal 5 (reinvest in public space, culture and inclusive programming): $3,540,000
According DDA documents, the FY2021 local tax increment budget has a total projected revenue of $6,270,491, plus a beginning balance of $7,050,537, with $8,500,000 in total projected expenditures.
The non-tax increment budget showed $1,233,080 in projected revenue on top of a beginning fund balance of $6,534,919, with $2,800,400 in projected expenditures.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, $1,000,000 also has been identified in the local tax increment and non-tax increment Goal 4 budgets to support a communitywide recovery effort. The DDA is prepared to deploy additional resources through future budget amendments if needed.
Following recommendation from the DDA Board, DGRI staff will present the recommended FY21 budgets to the city commission on April 28. After receiving city commission approval, the board will adopt its final annual budget and priority plans at the next scheduled meeting.