PLJ directors, banker work out plan

Promote La Jolla directors and their banker agreed last week on steps to clear up the organization’s outstanding balance on its line of credit.

The board of the Village business improvement district had missed a deadline on a $64,811 debt and asked for the meeting with Jason Shidler of First Republic Bank in an effort to resolve the issue.

The organization gets the bulk of its funding from fees businesses in the 30-block Village area pay to the city as well as special events like the Gallery & Wine Walk and the La Jolla Motor Car Classic. Contributions were also raised from members and others in the greater La Jolla area through a group formed by the previous PLJ board called the Promote La Jolla Foundation.

After 90 minutes of back and forth about how they got into the predicament, the board voted 8-0-1 with Bob Collins abstaining, to:

-pay $12,000 by the end of May and make the interest payments that are due for April, May and June,

-present Shidler with a budget for 2010 by May 15,

-present a completed audit to Shidler and the city council, which will reconsider PLJ’s status as it does every year, on April 27.

-present Shidler with a plan to start paying down the debt over the next two years.

Board members had said they wanted to work something out so they could continue to have a line of credit to help bridge the times when the city ‘s reimbursements from BID fees are slow in coming.

Shidler would not commit to continuing the credit line once the other conditions are met, but said, “As long as I feel everyone is going to get along, we’ll consider a line of credit. The organization needs to get back on the same page and do the right thing.”

Several times during the meeting he had expressed concerns about the organization, saying he wanted to “try to understand the current state of the board” … and to get an idea of what “evolved at the board level in the last year.” He said he also wanted to know about its operations and plans for the group.

The new board was seated in mid-January, two weeks after the $64,000 was due.

Shidler questioned why fundraising, which had been done by the Promote La Jolla Foundation had stopped.

When the line of credit was issued in 2005, it listed the foundation group as the guarantor.

Peter Wagoner, owner of Hotel Parisi, explained the group had essentially ceased to exist and has only $200 to its name. If needed, he said, it should be reconstituted with a new board.

It had raised about $350,000 but has not had any contributions in recent months.

Former board president Deborah Marengo said fundraising had been “going strong (until) “a very negative campaign was run that made it difficult to raise money.”

She added that it revolved around the issue of paid on-street parking and led to the election of the new board.