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Downtown improvement group gets a permanent president

Bill Brown loses "interim" label after six months on the job.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 1:40 pm

The head of the Downtown Improvement District received a welcomed birthday gift Tuesday by losing something: the “interim” in front of his name.

Bill Brown, who was named the group's interim president last June after the firing of Richard Davis, was unanimously given the job on a permanent basis Tuesday after a search that attracted 19 applicants. The board interviewed three finalists last week before settling on Brown, Chairman Charles Heiny said.

Brown will continue to earn $78,500 per year compared to the $105,000 Davis was paid. The DID will also save money by not having to provide Brown health insurance, which he has received since taking office Jan. 1 as an Allen County councilman. That job pays $15,475 annually.

Brown said he will work to improve the way the organization and board function. “We want the community to understand it's fun to live and work downtown,” said Brown, 61. The DID works to create and promote a variety of activities downtown.

Tuesday's meeting was the last for board members Heiny, Scott Glaze, Lona Antil and Joe Francis. They were replaced by Tim Rietdorf of MECA, Tom Marcuccilli representing the Commerce Building, Don Schenkel representing the University of Saint Francis, Dave Arnold of Ambassador Enterprises and Mark Luttik of the Hilton Hotel. Those appointments will be effective once approved by City Council. The board also reappointed Mike Erler to the Downtown Development Trust, which buys and redevelops properties.

In other business, the board endorsed the city's proposal to increase parking meter fees and the penalty for violations. The city wants to double the hourly rate from 25 cents to 50 cents. A separate bill would double most fines.

Board members said the higher fees might discourage people working downtown from parking on the street, reserving more meters for visitors.