The Westwood Village Improvement Association’s new budget increases worker salaries and cuts funding for beautification projects.
The association’s board of directors voted to approve the 2018 budget at their meeting Thursday. The board increased funding for the Communications/Development category, which promotes Westwood businesses through the association’s website and social media, and the Management category, which uses its funds for insurance payments, upkeep for monthly board meetings and office supplies and equipment rental.
The association, a nonprofit organization that provides Westwood Village with amenities it cannot directly receive from the city, devotes the majority of its budget each year to the Clean, Safe, and Beautiful category, which improved tree lighting and reconstructed sidewalks in the Village this year.
The category includes a subcategory for infrastructure costs, which cover sidewalk reconstruction and tree replanting. The board agreed to decrease funds in this subcategory to offset budget increases in other categories.
Andrew Thomas, executive director of the association, said worker salaries increased in every category because Los Angeles increased its minimum wage in July. Employers with 26 employees or more must pay their workers $12 an hour, while nonprofits and employers with fewer than 26 employees must pay their workers $10.50 an hour.
Thomas said the board had to increase assessments, which are fees businesses in Westwood pay the association to fund services, by 5 percent this fiscal year to offset the increased costs. Previously, the board voted to increase assessments in 2016.
Thomas also said the board needed to increase insurance fees this fiscal year because the association temporarily lost its insurance policy after receiving lawsuits from residents and visitors who injured themselves in the association’s boundaries. He added the association, rather than the city, is liable when Westwood residents or visitors injure themselves on city property, within boundaries.
The association budgets funds based on its assessments. The association collected $1.4 million in assessments for the 2018 fiscal year, according to the budget report. Thomas said the association still had $23,210 left over from the 2017 fiscal year.
Thomas said at the meeting the Los Angeles Department of Transportation selected the association to be a parking benefits district, which means revenues from parking are returned to the association for parking structure upkeep. However, Thomas said the association did not budget this revenue because the board members are not sure when the association will receive these funds.