PROVO — Local businesses contributed a paltry sum to an organization charged with the betterment of the downtown district, causing City Council members to question whether to continue appropriating money as well.

Last week, Joel Wallin, executive director of the Downtown Business Alliance of Provo Inc., reported the alliance received only $935 in contributions during 2007. The nonprofit alliance promotes economic development through tasks such as power washing all the downtown sidewalks, removing trash, maintaining landscaping and organizing downtown events.

The city appropriates $150,000 annually to the alliance to help it perform its tasks, but the City Council approved the contract under the assumption that local businesses would pitch in up to $70,000 each year, Councilman George Stewart said. The council appeared very disappointed the organization didn't generate more contributions last year and might reconsider renewing the contract.

"You've raised nothing," Stewart said to Wallin. "It's gonna be tough to vote to appropriate more money when you have no support from the community."

Wallin, who was appointed in mid-January, said the alliance has been in a rebuilding phase. The group has received "soft offers" from various local businesses, he said, but it's been tough to actively solicit contributions during the transitory phase. He also told the council they will make a "big push" for donations.

In past years, the city collected mandatory assessments from local businesses to pay for the downtown business district's upkeep, said Redevelopment Agency director Paul Glauser. The assessment was calculated based on a business's property value. Local residents said they didn't like the assessment's compulsive nature, so the city contracted with the Downtown Business Alliance.

The contract between the city and alliance doesn't stipulate a minimum contribution, but Stewart said the appropriation was approved under the impression local businesses would show financial support.

"If they themselves aren't committed, I would say there might not be a renewal of the contract," he said.


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