SEASIDE - A fee to maintain the downtown district is an attempt to place a property tax on a charitable institution, the leader of the Seaside Elks Club told the Seaside City Council Monday night.

Dennis Brodigan, exalted ruler of the Elks, said the fee, which will increase by 5.8 percent this year, will cost the Elks $2,200. The club, at 324 Avenue A, has 15 square feet of garden space to maintain, Brodigan said.

"That means less money to pay for scholarships, to give to the food bank and to donate to charities supported by the Elks," he added.

Begun in 1983, the downtown maintenance fee was established by local businesses to pay for litter removal, sweeping the sidewalks, maintaining planting areas and replacing plants.

This year, the fee is $7.78 per linear front foot. The total linear footage of the district is 10,409.3 feet, and the total fee will be $81,002. The Elks Lodge has two lots, with a combined front footage of 279.8 feet.

The district roughly includes the central core from the Prom to Roosevelt Drive and Broadway. It includes the Downing Mall and the Gilbert District.

There are 69 property owners, including the Elks and Moose lodges, and 98 lots.

Brodigan noted that if 33 percent of the property owners submitted written objections to the downtown maintenance district, the district could be abolished, according to the ordinance establishing it.

City Manager Mark Winstanley said that the fee did not increase last year, but the contracts for the maintenance and gardening contractors expire June 30, and the new contracts, beginning July 1, call for an increase. next year's fees rose.

"The Elks Lodge has been assessed since 1983," Winstanley said. "This is not a new assessment."

The council will conduct a third and final reading of the ordinance establishing the new fee at its meeting on May 10. It will take effect on July 1.

In other business, the council:

? Approved on- and off-premises sales liquor licenses for the Tsunami Sandwich Company, operated by David Posalski;

? Reappointed Wally Hamer and Tracy MacDonald to the Seaside Airport Committee

? Heard a report from Rick Gardener, director of the Clatsop Economic Development Resources, about the business development organization's accomplishments during the past two years. Gardener said CEDR has counseled 114 entrepreneurs and businesses, helped 11 new businesses get started and helped to create or retain 33 jobs. It has also sponsored several local business forums. Gardener asked the council to consider allocating some city funds to continue the organization's operation next year.

? Proclaimed May 1 as "Silver Star Banner Day," honoring the wounded and ill members of the Armed Forces.

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