Germantown Special Services District gets council, mayor approval to move forward

 Omar Gray was a street-cleaning mainstay for the Germantown Special Services District until its funding dried up. He's hoping to return once the GSSD offers a broom. (Aaron Moselle/for NewsWorks)

Omar Gray was a street-cleaning mainstay for the Germantown Special Services District until its funding dried up. He's hoping to return once the GSSD offers a broom. (Aaron Moselle/for NewsWorks)

With a unanimous City Council vote and a signature from Mayor Michael Nutter, the revamped Germantown Special Services District can finally move ahead with its mission of sprucing up the neighborhood’s business corridors.

Well, sort of.

The group’s five-year plan and budget was self-approved this summer, but the two-tiered support is the legislative approval needed for GSSD’s assessment of 12 percent of the property tax bill for each commercial property within the district.

Council voted on Councilwoman Cindy Bass’ measure at its Oct. 10 meeting and sent it to Nutter’s desk for approval which was quickly granted.

What now?

Joe Corrigan, former spokesman for Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass and GSSD board member, told NewsWorks this week that the approval means street cleaning can start and assessments can be sent out. Target date for both is Nov. 1, Corrigan said.

The area focuses on commercial properties fronting on Germantown Avenue between Coulter and High streets, Chelten between Baynton and Morris, along with Maplewood Mall, Market Square and sections of Greene Street and Wayne, Pulaski and Maplewood avenues.

A $25,000 “start-up grant” from the City will enable the GSSD to fund an interim administrator and interim cleaning vendor, services which will be contracted out for the first three months of its existence.

The GSSD is currently getting quotes from cleaning providers for other special-special services districts in the city, he said.

It has also engaged in a “lot of outreach” to school, churches and other non-profits within the SSD seeking donations, as those institutions are not subject to assessments. That mission is “going well,” according to Corrigan.

“By law, we can’t start assessing until services are offered, but we can’t pay for services until [businesses in the district] are assessed,” Corrigan said of the conundrum which the grant helped address. “We haven’t secured an office yet. We’re basically in a ‘conserve money’ mode until things get moving.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the GSSD can start sending out assessments as a result of the council and mayoral approval.

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