LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Mayor Matt Harter vetoed a resolution Monday, which had called for the release of $6-thousand dollars to Downtown Main Street, Inc.
Harter sent word of his veto to council members and department heads around noon.
According to their web site, Downtown Main Street, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization started in 1990 to help revitalize La Crosse's downtown business district
It was expecting to receive $19-thousand in taxpayer funding, which Mayor Harter said was allocated in the most recent city budget under "economic development."
Harter said that money was never specified to be for DMI, specifically.
"There are hundreds of organizations in the city that are doing good things, expanding the tax base and paying taxes," Harter said.
"I believe for us to pick and choose some organizations and provide taxpayer dollars to those and not others is not an appropriate way for us to be stewards of taxpayer dollars," he said.
"These private organizations need to be able to stand on their own," Harter added.
The $6-thousand currently being withheld translates to about four percent of DMI's budget – the bulk of which comes from businesses paying membership dues.
Jim Auler, the owner of Pearl Street Books in La Crosse, said he pays $150 annually for membership, and called it "worth it."
Auler said DMI creates events and promotions -- like its "Crazy Days" in which downtown businesses are encouraged to sell discounted items out on sidewalks.
Auler said those translate to more customers, and better business, and added the presence of DMI in the La Crosse community also attracts new shops and businesses to La Crosse.
"Its big project is to try and get more density downtown," Auler said, "which would be incredibly helpful to the whole city of La Crosse."
"More density means more property taxes collected, more occupancy, and cheaper city services for all of us because we all pitch in," Auler added.
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