City official: Promote La Jolla won’t get settlement funds back

By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

At a meeting on Dec. 8, the nonprofit’s three board members present said they wanted answers from the city on what was to become of $24,669.48 that its insurance company agreed to pay the city. (Another $65,323 from the settlement is being put back into the Coastal Access and Parking account.)

“I believe if we wait too long the city will swallow it up into the general fund,” said board member Deborah Marengo. “Whether it goes to the new group or PLJ, either way it’s the merchants’ money.”

Beth Murray of the city’s economic development office, which oversees Office of Small Business, said in an interview on Dec. 9 that there was nothing in the settlement agreement that would allow the money to go back to PLJ because there is no longer a contract with the group. Instead, she said, the money will go into the La Jolla BID fund.

The directors also agreed to seek reimbursement for expenses for the final three months before their contract to continue to run the La Jolla business improvement district was denied.

On top of that, they said, they had yet to receive any accounting for the recent Gallery, Wine Walk and Taste.

Murray she has asked the city attorney who advises her office to clarify whether they can reimburse the group for the April through June 2009 expenses.

If not, she said, those funds will also “stay in the BID fund.”

President Rick Wildman said Dec. 9 “that sounds reasonable. Our goal is to see that the creditors are made whole.”

PLJ has outstanding bills of about $50,000.

Meredith Dibden-Brown, who runs the small business office which is running the La Jolla business district while steps are being taken to form a new nonprofit that hopes to get the contract with the city, said she would also review “what can be reimbursed.”

She added that the final accounting for the November wine walk should be complete in the next couple of weeks.

Dibden-Brown and her staff generally hold meetings immediately following the PLJ meetings. However for the past two months, that meeting has not been held, which has upset those designated as “advisers.”

“We want an accounting,” said PLJ board member and adviser Jennifer Clark. “They’re spending (our) money.”