Business Government South Orange

South Orange Amends Special Improvement District Ordinance, Removing Sunset Clause

Village President Sheena Collum with village trustees and SOVCA staff at the South Orange Farmers Market

On July 24, the South Orange Village Board of Trustees voted to amend the ordinance governing the South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA), removing the five-year sunset clause for the Alliance and the special improvement district (SID) it manages.

In the past five years, the Alliance, financed partially by the SID assessment, has taken on business recruitment and retention, beautification, cleaning, advocacy, marketing, promotions and event production for South Orange’s downtown area. Visit www.sovillagecenter.org for more information on SOVCA.

At its June 26 meeting, the South Orange Village Board of Trustees voted to introduce a new ordinance modifying the original special improvement district ordinance. At the July 24 second reading and hearing of the ordinance amendments, no members of the public spoke against “2017-19: Ordinance amending and restating ordinance number 2012-01 creating a special improvement district, a downtown business improvement zone and a district management corporation.”

Prior to the July 24 hearing and vote, information about the proposed changes to the ordinance were disseminated to stakeholders of the SID via a “cheat sheet” created by SOVCA Executive Director Bob Zuckerman (see below).

A discussion by the Trustees at the June 26 meeting centered mainly around the elimination of the termination clause: “Section 11. Termination. The District and the Corporation shall terminate five years after the date on which the initial budget of the Corporation is approved by the Board of Trustees, unless an ordinance is passed by the Board of Trustees amending this Ordinance to extend or shorten the date of termination.”

Trustee Steve Schnall said that the change was introduced because “at this point [it is] unnecessary because this board has the power to do two things — we can withhold the amount [the SID budget allocation from the Township] which essentially shuts them down or we can just shut them down.”

Township counsel Steve Rother said that the elimination of the clause means “you can take positive action” and the Township wold not risk “the chance of an illegal assessment if not renewed.”

SUMMARY OF CHANGES TO SOVCA ORDINANCE

  1. The board increases from 12 to 15 members.
  2. One of the new board members will be “at large,” meaning that they can qualify as either as either a Property Owner Director, Business Operator Director or Resident Director. This initial appointment will be for a 2 year term.
  3. The SOPAC liaison will become a voting member of the board for a one year renewable term and will be selected by SOPAC in consultation with the board.
  4. SOVCA will add a non-voting board member from Seton Hall University for a one year renewable term who will be selected by Seton Hall in consultation with the board.
  5. SOVCA will submit its budget to the BOT for approval by November 1st (instead of Sept. 1st).
  6. The budget will be submitted along with a “strategic plan” for the district (instead of a five year projection of goals and a strategy for implementation of the goals as the ordinance is currently written).
  7. SOVCA will be required to hold an annual meeting for the public within the first quarter of the year for which the budget is approved (instead of annual report which was previously required within the first 30 days of the calendar year).
  8. SOVCA’s sunset clause, which expires in January, 2018, will not be renewed. The Board of Trustees will continue to have the power to disband the special improvement district at any time.

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