In an effort to be granted six-digit monetary funding in preparation for the 2019-20 Fiscal Year budget, the Wharton Downtown Business Association (WDBA) cited “existing, anticipated and identified funds/sources” as some of the reasons elected leaders should consider disbursing funding for the self-described “newly-formed” entity.

A letter dated June 10 from WDBA Treasurer Deborah Cenko to Wharton Finance Director Joan Andel explains that the WDBA and City of Wharton are trying to achieve a common goal.

“The city's Strategic Plan dedicates a chapter to further development of the Central Business District, which encompasses the Wharton Downtown Business Association area,” Cenko said. “We look forward to partnering with the city, and the timely implementation of these objectives in an effort to meet residents’ dreams of an iconic center that is the heart of the community.”

Cenko explained in the letter that the City of Wharton is already allocating $6,000 from the Wharton Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture for wine fair profits, and $1,000 for Texas Historic Commission Independence Trail Region. According to the letter, the city has identified $10,000 for the downtown area as it relates to the Wharton Economic Development Corporation, and annual membership dues for the WDBA in the amount of $4,500.

In the letter, the WDBA said it’s anticipated that the city will move forward with the following an EPA Recreation Economy for Rural Communities Grant ($14,000) and Anice Read Grant – 

wayfinding implementation ($5,000).

Through her letter, Cenko did outline anticipated WDBA expenditures and uses totaling $100,000 annually.

She said funding from the city in the coming year would be “critical to achieving several of the strategic initiatives.”

Among them were:

• economic impact analysis and project implementation strategy associated with levee improvements/connectivity (parks/open spaces) – ($14,000);

• Central Business District wayfinding plan ($15,000);

• $6,000 Central Business District wayfinding plan implementation to include signage acquisition and installation. It includes two-sided kiosk-style directory and map downtown ($2,500). It includes street sign topper branded attachments ($1,000). It includes US 59/69 Central Business District directional sign ($2,500);

• advertising, marketing, and promotion of annual projects ($15,000);

• organizational operations. It includes one part-time staff person and office associated costs. Staff will be responsible for promotion of the WDBA, and associated projects, project development, implementation, grant application, development and funding management. Also, projects to include pop-up merchant integration, Houston “staycation” weekend tours, monthly walk-abouts, downtown festivals ($50,000).

In several instances, Cenko continued to refer to the city’s Strategic Plan – Chapter 12 in particular.

“This information is being provided to the city to show how requested funding from the city will be leveraged and aligned with city-specified priorities, as defined in the 2019 City of Wharton Comprehensive Plan,” Cenko said.

Whether the Wharton City Council will move forward with any or all of the WDBA funding request is still left to be determined. The city does plan to have several public hearings on the budget before the end of September, possible this month, too.

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