THIRD STREET PROMENADE — Property owners in the Downtown business district will see a little unexpected cash going into the holiday season.

The Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. board of directors voted to return nearly $2 million in assessments that had been paid into the district before it was actually allowed to spend the money.

It was a timing issue, said Executive Director Kathleen Rawson.

When the assessment was established in 2008, the Los Angeles County Assessor added it to the tax bill six months before the City Council approved the services agreement.

“In the meantime, revenues were collected,” Rawson said. “In essence we had about $2 million in assessments given to us, and we had not yet started the work.”

Assessments pay for the Ambassador program and cleaning costs for Downtown, amongst other things.

Although there was no obligation to return the money, board members decided to pay each property owner 57 percent of their assessment given that property owners had paid it expecting services that hadn’t yet arrived.

The district rode out the down economy relatively well, but every little bit helps, Rawson said.

“Downtown Santa Monica has really held its own throughout the economic crisis,” Rawson said. “An extraordinary number of people are enjoying Downtown.”

Service has not been modified or decreased because of the rebate, she said.

The item, along with the rest of the Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. workplan — was meant to come before the City Council Tuesday, but got postponed until the Dec. 6 meeting so that the City Council could deal with a permitting issue for Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. and the Pier Restoration Corporation.

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