SSA budget

Year-to-year line items in the 2020 Downtown Hyde Park budget

Commissioners approved the 2020 budget for Special Service Area (SSA) 61, or Downtown Hyde Park, on Tuesday, allocating funds for district marketing to support small businesses amid the coronavirus recession.

South East Chicago Commission Executive Director Diane Burnham said the SSA currently has a surplus because of decreased spending because of the pandemic, with the SSA doing a budget modification. Money set aside to redo the organization's website will instead go to district marketing, as has most of the money set aside for summertime events ($5,000 remains for public events in the fall and winter) and the cancelled Hyde Park Farmers Market.

The SSA only plans to replace ripped or torn "Downtown Hyde Park" banners this year. SECC Program Administrator Brandon Evans said fewer than 20 banners out of 110 total in the district need to be replaced.

"This is the SSA's effort to help boost our business district as our businesses start opening," said Chairman George Rumsey. "This is where we're reallocating some funds: into business promotions, into things we can figure out that would be useful to help our businesses get back on track."

Prentice Butler, chief of staff to Ald. Sophia King (4th), said she and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) have no plans for an organized event on Halloween night this year given public health safety concerns. Last year's event was cut short after fights broke out for the fourth consecutive year, prompting police to clear the streets.

Butler said King may hold another Zoom meeting for small business owners to talk about aid still available; Charles Newsome, president of Kimbark Plaza, agreed to chair an SSA subcommittee on small business support.

There turned out to be a $20,000 budgetary shortfall last year, Rumsey said, and he urged the SSA to begin thinking of potential ways to cut the budget if tax revenue dries up because of the pandemic recession. Evans said the budget was drafted to accommodate a shortfall of up to $60,000, with only one sidewalk power-washing rather than two saving $33,000 and $6,000 saved from the cancelled farmers' market. 

"We have around $53,000 earmarked that we can locate and identify as cost-saving areas," Evans said.

The next SSA meeting is scheduled for June 23 at 7 p.m., and it will be conducted virtually.

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