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Auburn may pay BID $90K to run downtown Auburn welcome center

The Auburn City Council will vote later this week to approve an agreement in which the city would pay the Auburn Downtown Business Improvement District $90,000 to operate the Equal Rights Heritage Center when it opens at the end of October. The agreement is one of the final pieces of an operating plan the city has worked to put together since the state announced in 2016 that a $10 million visitors center would open in Auburn.

In an interview with The Citizen Monday, City Clerk Chuck Mason explained that the majority of the $90,000 payment will be put toward administration and staffing costs, including a $15,000 administrative fee for the BID and $55,000 for salary and benefits for a full-time visitor experience manager. About $16,000 has been set aside to hire part-time and seasonal employees. The remaining $4,000 or so will be used for programming at the center, Mason said.

The administration fee “will allow for all expenses incurred by the BID for administration of the operations of the center to be covered,” Mason said. The city will leave it up to the BID to use the money how it deems necessary.

Earlier this year, it was decided that BID Executive Director Stephanie DeVito would step into the roll of the center’s operating manager on a schedule separate from her work as the head of the BID. She will be tasked with overseeing the facility and its staff.

Mason said the city is grateful that BID stepped up to run the center and is looking forward to partnering with the organization.

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