A local business association is dipping into its reserves. Neighbors are worried it's in order to keep the lights on, but the association says that's not the case.
The Hillcrest Business Association had about $220,000 in their reserves a few years ago. Now, the reserve is somewhere around $120,000, according to president Benjamin Nicholls.
"Businesses were telling us we should spend that money to help them so we started to do that," said Nicholls.
Some of the projects the money was used for was a grant donation to the Alpha Project to help get homeless people off the streets and into housing, Nicholls said. Another project saved 180 parking spots after some recommended they be turned into bike lanes.
But the association said they have struggled over the last few years bringing in money from events. In a November meeting that alarmed neighbors, Nicholls said major events like Pride and Mardi Gras brought in $0 in profits.
"I think that’s what they’ve been doing is trying to make the association broke," said Mat Wahlstrom, a Hillcrest resident and member of the association through his small business. "It’s very hard to believe that business people don’t know how to do these events when they’ve been doing them for so many years and they've been very profitable in the past."
The association said they've struggled to get the same turn out to their popular Pride Block Party as past years.
"Now bars and restaurants are starting to offer their events earlier," said Eddie Reynoso, Marketing and Member Services Director of the Hillcrest Business Association. "And while it’s not necessarily competing, it is drawing people away from the block party.”
In its 2017 financial report, the Hillcrest B-I-A, which administers the business improvement district, shows the association spent $780,000 more than the income it received. A different report showed a $37,000 loss.
It's not the first year. The association was in the red in 2016 as well.
The association added they are not in financial difficulty. They have other means of raising funds, such as the Farmer's Market, which brings in more than $200,000 a year, as well as bids that local businesses pay to be a part of the association.