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Still no final audit on Downtown Corvallis Association but here's how much it's costing

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The meter is running on the audit of the now-defunct Downtown Corvallis Association, which promoted downtown businesses to attract locals and visitors, with $9,100 in costs already billed to the city.

The audit, which is being carried about by Pauly Rogers & Co., is expected to take another one to three months to complete, according to Economic Development Manager Kate Porsche. The city continues incurring costs until the audit is done, she said.

The Downtown Corvallis Association dissolved after nearly four decades of service, as announced in a February news release from the association’s board of directors. The release cited COVID-19 as the cause, saying the pandemic shut down most of the large fundraising events of the past two years.

Climate activists Sunrise Corvallis demonstrate outside the Corvallis City Council's chambers downtown. A Green New Deal resolution drafted by the group is under consideration by the council.

Jennifer Moreland took over the association in 2018 when Joan Wessell retired after 25 years as executive director.

Prior to the dissolution announcement, the city requested to audit the nonprofit's last five years of financial records. It also requested contracts, payroll records, details related to revenue and expenditures, evidence of work performed, bank statements and any previous audits.

The city has a right to request these items because the association had been funded by a downtown economic improvement district the city created in 1993. It applies a voluntary surcharge to property owners who agreed to pay up in exchange for programming and advocacy to help downtown businesses thrive. 

At the time, using improvement districts in this way was common, Porsche said in a previous interview.

But property owner participation, Porsche previously said, has declined over the years, shrinking the district’s boundaries and revenue for Downtown Corvallis Association operations. Among those operations included business assistance, public advocacy, political involvement and community events.

Now, many downtown organizations are moving away from improvement districts, focusing more on membership or sponsorship models, she added.

According to city records, property in the district was annually assessed at $1.25 per $1,000 of real market value, with a maximum cap of $3,500. The assessments generated around $60,000 a year for the association, according to city records.

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Cody Mann covers Benton County and the cities of Corvallis and Philomath. He can be contacted at 541-812-6113 or Cody.Mann@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter via @News_Mann_.

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Cody Mann is an experienced, relentless journalist, who is currently working as a local government news reporter for the Corvallis Gazette-Times. He earned journalism bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Oregon.

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