With street-cleaning plans in works, GSSD plan introduced at Council meeting

 Photographed at a June meeting, Germantown Special Services District board members and nominees: (L-R) Barbara Hogue, Ingrid Shepard, Matt Canno, Dr. Francine Fulton, Joseph Martin, Linda Samuel, Joe Corrigan, Joseph Waldo and John Churchville . Not pictured: Mjenzi Traylor. (Amy Z. Quinn/for NewsWorks)

Photographed at a June meeting, Germantown Special Services District board members and nominees: (L-R) Barbara Hogue, Ingrid Shepard, Matt Canno, Dr. Francine Fulton, Joseph Martin, Linda Samuel, Joe Corrigan, Joseph Waldo and John Churchville . Not pictured: Mjenzi Traylor. (Amy Z. Quinn/for NewsWorks)

After years of planning, the organization tasked with cleaning up Germantown’s business corridor is another step closer to being realized.

The five-year plan and budget for the Germantown Special Services District, which was approved by board members this summer, was introduced at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass said at a meeting of the Germantown-area businesses that securing legislative approval for the GSSD is an important step, and one that “will get us to the end result much, much sooner.”

From here, council’s rules committee will hold a public hearing, the date for which has not yet been scheduled, according to Bass.

“We want you to come on down to the hearing and talk about how important it is that we have the GSSD, how important it is to have clean streets, lighting, and the improvements that we really want to see to get our business corridor where we want it to be,” she said.

Bass predicted the plan will be approved at the Oct. 3 City Council session, after which the GSSD can start operations.

What the GSSD is up to

Joseph Martin, GSSD’s interim chairman, announced that the organization plans to hire four cleaners, in both full and part-time positions, who will take to the streets five days a week.

Martin also said negotiations are underway to expand the eastern boundary of the district to include the 300 block of E. Chelten Ave. Currently, GSSD ends at Baynton Street.

Funding the street cleaning will be the merchants themselves, who will pay 12 percent of their businesses’ tax assessment toward the GSSD. To quell fears in light of changing assessments, the GSSD will base its first year’s assessment off of the 2013 rate.

Martin, founder of the Acclaim Academy early childhood-learning center on Germantown Avenue, spoke to the higher purposes of the assessment.

“It’s an investment that I have to make to protect the future of Germantown and my business,” he said.

Dissenting voices

However, some businesses owners expressed concern over the additional levy, citing the already sharp cost of doing business in the city.

In response, Bass referenced a stalled City Council initiative from earlier in the year that would have raised the use and occupancy tax on city business owners to help fund the ailing Philadelphia School District. Bass indicated that she did not support the measure.

“A lot of us on council said, ‘We don’t want to do that,” Bass replied. “We can’t go to the same source over and over again.”

State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, who chaired the meeting, said he hopes to draw attention to the plan to attract consumers to Germantown business, but he’s also attempting to ensure the neighborhood “stays relevant.”

“We’re trying to rebuild our community,” said Kinsey, “and the business corridor is part of the community as well.”

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