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Council Analysts: Re-Up The Bethesda Urban Partnership

By Aaron Kraut

Tuesday - 10/29/2013, 3:05pm  ET

Flickr pool photo by AmyMarieMooreCounty Council analysts have recommended another five-year term for the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP), the nonprofit that is contracted by Montgomery County to market and maintain downtown Bethesda while also operating its Circulator.

The Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) came out with its mandatory performance evaluation for BUP before its current contract with the county ends on Jan. 31, 2014.

The county provides 92 percent of the group’s funding, most of it through special development taxes, parking fees and parking fines. Last year, the BUP spent $4.3 million to pay 32 employees, operate the free Circulator buses, landscaping, marketing materials and other costs.

About 8 percent of BUP’s revenue comes from non-county services, including sponsorships at events such as the Taste of Bethesda and advertising on the Circulator buses.

In its evaluation, the OLO says it conducted 18 interviews with county government staff and community representatives who work with BUP and all interviewed were happy with BUP’s work. The OLO also reviewed focus group results part of BUP’s strategic planning that showed developers, residents, visitors and employers in downtown Bethesda liked the job it was doing.

In the evaluation, the OLO recommended the County Council reauthorize another five-year term for BUP and require it to create another five-year strategic plan before the 2018 reauthorization.

Check out the report for a detailed look at how parking fees and special taxes in the downtown area pay for BUP-provided services.

PDF: 2013 Evaluation of the Bethesda Urban Partnership

Flickr pool photo by AmyMarieMoore