The Braselton Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is considering the possibility of hiring its first employee — but not before it decides what that person’s job duties will include.
The DDA has made it clear that intends to apply for Braselton’s status as either a Better Hometown or in the Main Street program — both offered through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The programs focus on revitalization in a commercial district, including building improvements, economic development and promotion.
However, the state agency has said it’s not taking additional cities into the programs due to budget cuts.
But when the door opens for those programs, the Braselton DDA wants to be prepared to apply to the state agency.
Officials from the DCA told the authority last month that because its population has grown, Braselton would qualify for the Main Street program — a designation that would require a full-time program manager working at least 32 hours a week. The Better Hometown designation only requires that managers work a minimum of 20 hours a week.
Braselton town manager Jennifer Dees told the DDA on Thursday that salaries for such positions vary greatly — depending on the manager’s experience and job responsibilities.
“This board hires them, this board does their evaluations — they wouldn’t work for me or the town,” Dees said.
But hiring a manager will take money and Dees advised the authority members to consider if they want to fill such a proposed position in its FY 2013 budget — which will start on July 1. Braselton’s departments will start working soon on their proposed budgets for next fiscal year, she added.
For the DDA’s inaugural budget in FY 2011, the Braselton Town Council approved the transfer of $30,000 from the general fund to the authority’s budget. Most of that money was earmarked for a market study of downtown, but that project was later rolled into the renovation work of the Braselton Brothers Store complex.
At the start of the 2012 fiscal year, the Braselton DDA had about $30,000 in its bank account and has raised additional revenue through its annual wine tasting and auction.
Dees told authority members on Thursday that if the group budgets the funds for an employee, but doesn’t fill that position during the 2013 fiscal year, it could transfer the money to another expense or keep it for the following fiscal year.
“But, it’s better to plan,” she said.
Pat Graham, a member of the authority who is running for chairman of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners, said the DDA’s first step should be to look at a job description for the position.
“I think once we do a job description, we’ll have a better opportunity to determine what the wages should be,” she said.
However, Graham emphasized that a key responsibility of the position should be economic development.
Dees said the timing of hiring Braselton’s first Main Street manager will affect the amount that the DDA will budget for the position. Should the position be filled earlier in the fiscal year, more money would have to be budgeted than if a manager is named later.
The authority has discussed the possibility of launching a grand re-opening event in November or December to commemorate the substantial completion of several major infrastructure projects in downtown Braselton. The organization of that event could be handled by the proposed Main Street manager.
“If you want someone to come in on July 1, you need to get moving,” Dees said.
In other business, the Braselton DDA members discussed the possibility of a weekly Bingo game — which could potentially be a fundraiser for the authority and various nonprofit groups.
Authority member Cindy Phillips pitched the idea of Friday night Bingo games being held in the lower level of the Braselton Police and Municipal Court Building. The DDA would sponsor the event, but a designated nonprofit group could receive a portion of the proceeds, too. The benefiting nonprofit group would vary each week.
Phillips said the fundraiser would be a way to get more folks to downtown Braselton in the evenings — especially families with children.
Dees reported that similar Bingo games held recently by nonprofit groups in Braselton have been successful. Phillips said she would report back on the proposal at a future DDA meeting.