The Downtown Lebanon Business Improvement District, commonly known as “the BID,” was officially dissolved at a brief hearing in a Lebanon County courtroom on October 8.
Judge Bradford H. Charles entered an order ending over three years of litigation after city attorney Donna Long outlined a plan to wrap up a few remaining loose ends. Edward Schock, the downtown property owner who convinced the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the BID was never properly created, had no objections.
The heart of the city’s proposal is its intention to use the remaining assessments collected from BID property owners to pay former BID Director Amy Kopecky’s $45,000 annual salary and expenses as “Downtown Lebanon Manager” through November of 2020.
According to Long and a spreadsheet she introduced into evidence, the fund will be exhausted at that point.
Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello had previously estimated that about $265,000 in assessments had been collected before the BID was struck down. As of July 31, 2019, $98,717.83 remained after expenses. According to LebTown estimates, approximately $90,000 would remain today.
Other documents introduced into evidence by the city show that the remaining funds are being held by the Lebanon Foundation, an affiliate of the Community of Lebanon Association. The foundation had been designated to oversee the now-defunct BID.
Long told Judge Charles that Kopecky was hired as BID director in 2018. An employment contract introduced by the city sets her $45,000 annual salary, and runs from January 28, 2019 through December 31, 2020.
Shock’s lawsuit simply asked for a declaration that the BID had never been properly formed and therefore could not collect assessments from property owners. It did not ask for return of any collected assessments nor did it seek a ruling on what should be done with the remaining assessment funds. Schock confirmed this to Judge Charles at the October 8 hearing.
This summer, Mayor Capello said that she was not aware of any assessed property owners who were demanding their money back. Capello said at that time that if there is support on City Council, she will form another steering community to put forward a new BID plan, which would be voted on by Council through an ordinance.
Even without support from a BID, the Downtown Lebanon Main Street program will continue to operate and do good work, according to Capello. The “Main Street” designation is conferred by the state on downtowns and central business districts throughout Pennsylvania, and allows certain community based revitalization efforts.
“A lot of positive things came out of this,” she said at the time, referring to the many events the organization has conducted in Downtown. “Some of the businesses have reported to us that with Main Street promotions they had had their highest sales ever.”
An example of Downtown Lebanon promotions includes Mental Health Awareness Week, which ends today.
Read More About the BID
City of Lebanon enters Keystone Main Street Program, a five year opportunity for prioritized revitalization funding
This article has been updated to more precisely describe the remaining balance of assessments collected by the BID.