North Flatbush BID Was $31K in the Hole Before Chief Stepped Down: Records

By Leslie Albrecht on February 19, 2014 9:37am 

 The North Flatbush Business Improvement District has operated with a deficit for several years, according to public records.
The North Flatbush Business Improvement District has operated with a deficit for several years, according to public records.
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Flickr/threecee

BROOKLYN — The nonprofit group that's responsible for helping Flatbush Avenue businesses thrive was carrying a deficit of its own that topped $35,000 in recent years, records show.

The North Flatbush Business Improvement District, which charges an annual fee to local businesses for street cleaning and other local improvements, spent more money than it took in for at least four years in a row, according to the group's most recent filings with the Internal Revenue Service.

The red ink has caught the attention of the city's Small Business Services agency, which oversees New York City's more than 60 BIDs.

BIDs "typically do not run a deficit," and the SBS has "been working with the North Flatbush BID to review the organization’s financial management, which is still ongoing," an SBS spokeswoman said.

The BID's executive director, Sharon Davidson, stepped down in December after five years at the helm. Davidson served as the BID's vice president for five years before becoming executive director.

She said the BID's shaky financial footing was an ongoing problem.

"It’s hard to run a BID when you only have $115,000," Davidson said. "We always had a deficit. There were times that I didn’t get paid. We had a board comprised of multi-millionaires who refused to increase the budget."

The BID's board president, Regina Cahill, did not respond to a request for comment.

Tax documents show that the BID has been in the red since 2007, when the executive director was Dawn C. Torres. That year, the BID reported income of $139,000 and expenses of $172,000, ending the year $33,410 in the red.

Davidson took over the next year, and the BID continued to out-spend its revenues, running a deficit of $12,433. In 2009, the overspending swelled to $36,871. The deficits continued each year until 2011, the most recent year for which records are available. In its last IRS filing, the BID reported income of $123,703 and expenses of $155,268, ending the fiscal year with a $31,565 deficit.

From 2007 to 2011, the BID's overall assets shrank from a positive balance of $52,805 to a deficit of $33,559, records show.

The North Flatbush Avenue BID, which is led by a president, executive director, and board of directors, is a nonprofit public charity whose mission is to "promote the economic growth and well-being of the people and businesses in the North Flatbush Avenue area," according to documents filed with the IRS.

In 2013, the BID took in $150,000 from paying members in its 24-block territory, according to the Small Business Services agency. Information on 2013 expenses wasn't available.

In recent years BID's activities have included pushing for the creation of public plazas on north Flatbush Avenue, installing promotional banners along the avenue, publishing a shopping guide, and offering workshops for local merchants on topics such as how to use social media.

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