The director for the downtown Paterson Special Improvement District has resigned amid the City Council’s hold up of the business district’s $304,000 budget.
Sheri Ferreira announced her resignation in a social media posting on Thursday morning. She resigned also from her post as associate director of the Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce.
“This July would have been 17 years working here in Paterson,” wrote Ferreira, whose resignation is effective May 31, 2018. “I will continue to champion Downtown Paterson and the entire City and I will cherish the friendships and partnerships I’ve made here. Thank you, Paterson for being such a big part of my journey.”
Ferreira has been criticized by council members two months ago for the performance of her business district. Some criticized her for presenting an unclear budget while others said the downtown Paterson business area remains unsafe and filthy.
Councilman Michael Jackson, who represents the 1st Ward, where the district is located, has spent three years criticizing the business district and its leaders.
“Honestly, this is a win for Paterson,” said Jackson on Thursday afternoon. “All I have been asking for her is to show her work.”
“He didn’t push me out,” said Ferreira on Friday morning. She said she had been looking for the right fitting job for the past three years.
Ferreira submitted a revised budget that was presented to the council earlier in the month. Jackson found that document unsatisfactory. He has asked for an outline of the district’s budget, supporting documents for expenses, payroll reports, list of voting members, budget votes taken by the district’s board, and bank statements
Jackson said the district has yet to provide those documents.
“The SID was not functioning properly,” said Jackson. “The SID now no longer continues. It gets dissolved.”
Jackson acknowledged the district’s board can hire a new director. However, that will depend on whether the council decides to approve the district’s budget. Without approval from the council the district’s main revenue source, an extra tax on downtown property owners collected by the city, is cut.
The councilman noted neither the business owners nor the district’s members came out to council meetings to defend their director.
Ferreira tried to build a working relationship with Jackson when he came into office in 2015. But, Jackson was unhappy at the district employing Jamie Dykes.
Dykes is the president of the Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce. He has a $40,000 job with the district.
Jackson and Dykes share an animosity from the time when the Paterson Restoration Corporation, a quasi-governmental organization that issues loans to businesses, issued a $140,000 loan to the councilman’s restaurant, Jacksonville.
Jackson defaulted on the loan forcing the organization to go after him through the court system.
Ferreira wrote she has found a job elsewhere with a “major” nonprofit group.
The budget impasse between the district and the council may claim as casualty the downtown 4th of July celebration that attracts thousands of people to the city’s main commercial thoroughfare.
This report was updated at 11:20 a.m.