In essence the two do go hand in hand, as it is the financial
support of the community partners who help fund the annual budget.
The Main Street organization draws funding from the city and the
county, has some grant funding that applies to specific projects,
and does fundraising events throughout the year. However,
these cash sources do not supply all the needs of the organization.
The community partnerships are opportunities for local businesses
to become members of the Main Street organization with a cash
donation. In addition to the partnerships, there are sponsor
opportunities when a business can offer support to a specific event
such as The Art of Wine or Honest Abe's Barbeque Cook Off.
For this calendar year, Main Street is going to need to raise
$57,000 to break even. Rohlfs talked about the funding, saying she
is hopeful the city of Lincoln will be able to increase its funding
to the organization this year.
In 2010, the cash-strapped city government cut funding to some
community partners, including Main Street. Formerly contributing a
total of $15,000, the city cut the amount to $10,000. When the city
returned to the budget table in March of 2011 Alderwoman Melody
Anderson said she felt the cut had sent a message to Main Street
Lincoln and they had responded well, becoming more active and more
visible in the downtown community.
This year, Rohlfs feels the organization has once again raised
the bar and is hopeful the city will recognize this.
Another source of funding comes from the county via the
hotel-motel tax. Main Street receives one-half of 1 percent of the
total tax collected, which Rohlfs said could be as much as $14,000
However, as this was being discussed, Bell said the tourism
bureau, which also benefits from this tax, is concerned the revenues
may not be there this year. The projections that by summer gas could
be as high as $5 per gallon are going to hold people back from
traveling on vacations.
In addition to the contributions of the governing bodies, Main
Street hopes to raise $12,000 from The Art of Wine, $1,000 through
the barbecue event and a total of $2,500 projected from other
fundraisers such as city ornament sales, saver cards, the annual
dinner at Hallie's and the sale of Lincoln in Lincoln prints.
Rohlfs said the budget is once again lean this year, but if
funding isn't found, the group will have to concentrate of finding
ways to cut expenses. One area she noted immediately was a line item
for meetings and conferences. She said she had put money in the line
item to attend a national Main Street conference this year,
something she has not been able to do for the last few years. If the
money cannot be found to support the budget, that is one of the
first lines that can be cut.
Currently the budget has $10,000 in partnership revenues and
$2,500 in sponsorships. The group turned their focus on the
partnership amount, looking at who is being approached to become
partners and how this revenue can be increased by expanding the
[to top of second column]
Although the role of the Main Street organization focuses on
historic preservation and economic growth and revitalization of the
downtown area, their success in achieving these goals can benefit
the entire Logan County region.
The group discussed how to explain this to would-be partners so
they can understand their partnership is not only important to Main
Street Lincoln, but to their business as well.
Bell, who has worked a great deal in her current job with
promotions, volunteered to draft a letter explaining the benefits of
belonging to Main Street, as well as a news release for local
The organization will be sending out letters seeking partners and
sponsors. They also agreed they will divide their mailing list among
them this year, and each board member will call on at least 10
In addition, the board agreed that each member will contribute
financially to the partnership program.
In other news, the board also discussed the $675,000 grant
received by the city of Lincoln for downtown revitalization. Rohlfs
said Main Street Lincoln will not benefit financially from the
grant, but she is really excited that the group will have input in
the planning process.
She explained that the plans that are going to be made fall right
in line with the expectations of the Department of Commerce and
Economic Opportunity for the Main Street program.
She is also excited that among the items on the to-do list for
the grant is the establishment of a historic preservation ordinance
for the city. She said this is important to Main Street and will be
helpful in the future when the city applies for other grants to do
the actual work of downtown beautification.
County liaison Andy Anderson asked about this ordinance, saying
he didn't know there wasn't one. Rohlfs said it had come up in the
past, but it met with opposition because doing a preservation
ordinance can be perceived as dictating to property owners what they
can and cannot do with their own property. She said the ordinance
will only apply to what is visible from the outside and does not
dictate how business owners set up the interiors of their
It also does not mean that all the businesses in town
must look like they were built in the 1800s. To maintain proper preservation, the buildings should look like
they did the day they were built. She noted, for example, the Becherer's
Jewelers building was built in the 1950s and looks like it.
In historic preservation, that would not change. What would change
would be adding 21st-century facades to 19th-century buildings.
Under a preservation ordinance, the facades would have to be done in a manner
that appears historically correct to the time the building was
As the two-hour meeting of the board came to a close, it appeared
everyone in the room had a better understanding of their mission as
board members and are ready to fulfill that mission.
[By NILA SMITH]