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Article updated: 11/15/2012 4:57 PM

Lombard debating funding for Town Centre group

By Marie Wilson

The group that promotes downtown Lombard is being encouraged to plan for its long-term financial future as it requests $50,000 in village funding for 2013.

Lombard Town Centre is seeking the money to pay its executive director's salary and payroll taxes as well as expenses related to events such as the Spooktacular Fall Festival.

The economic and community development committee of the village board began considering the funding request this week, and member Dennis McNicholas said he wants to see indications of more long-term financial planning before possibly approving next year's request.

The village has granted funding to Lombard Town Centre every year since the group formed in 2005, totaling $462,791 in eight years. Funding comes from a downtown tax increment financing district that is set to expire in 2023, so McNicholas said he wants Lombard Town Centre to have a plan for financial stability long before the money runs out.

"They've got to come up with either a method of permanently funding their own needs and balancing their own budget, or the village board has to take this on as a separate line item in its budget," McNicholas said.

He said forming a long-term funding plan could prevent Lombard Town Centre from meeting the fate of its predecessor, Downtown Lombard United, an all-volunteer organization that dissolved in 2001 after 23 years.

Village funding has plugged the gap between what Lombard Town Centre brings in through fundraisers such as a golf outing and a wine dinner and the organization's operating expenses, according to budget documents. Town Centre President Walter Smith said he knows the organization needs to evaluate when it can become self-sufficient.

"One of the early steps we're going to take is meeting with a representative from the COD (College of DuPage) small business department and working on a long-term business plan of our own," Smith said. "That's something we'll probably complete over the next year."

The 2013 funding request tops what the village granted in 2012 by $11,500. Of the additional amount requested next year, $7,500 would go to fund rent, utilities and promotional expenses for events, while $4,000 would cover payroll taxes for Executive Director Michelle Iwinski's part-time $38,500 salary. Last year's grant covered only the executive director's salary.

The economic and community development committee will continue discussing the funding request Dec. 10.

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