ROCKLAND — The Rockland City Council approved Wednesday evening, July 6, contributing additional money for Rockland Main Street Inc.

The Council voted 5-0 to approve $45,000 for Rockland Main Street’s annual contribution, up from $30,000.

But Councilors were split on whether to also provide an additional $15,000 to the downtown organization for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council voted 3-2 with Mayor Ed Glaser and Councilor Nate Davis opposed.

Glaser said he did not think the city should be responsible for every organization that was affected by the pandemic.

Rockland Main Street Inc. Executive Director David Gogel said the traditional fundraisers the group undertake were not held during the pandemic. But the organization innovated, he said, and spent more time focusing on the needs of Rockland rather than the needs of the organization.

Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf pointed out soon after Gogel was hired, the pandemic struck and the city and Gogel had to work to design downtown to allow businesses to keep going through curbside and outside service. She said Gogel helped open communications between the parties.

Councilor Sarah Austin pointed out the annual $30,000 has not changed since 2009.

Councilor Nate Davis said he was skeptical going into the meeting, saying there is a perception in the community of a separation between the downtown and the remainder of the community. He said some people feel the separation with relatively expensive art galleries and other businesses. But, Davis contended, Gogel has transformed the organization into something other than a booster of a small group of businesses and to something more inviting and inclusive.

The money will come from the 2022-2023 Downtown/Tillson Avenue Area tax increment financing district account. That account has about $800,000 remaining.

Rockland Main Street organizes events such as Festival of Lights and the Summer Solstice celebration. The organization’s website states, “Rockland Main Street Inc., is a focused partnership of residents, businesses and local government that enhances and protects the unique sense of place and economic vitality of Downtown Rockland, Maine.”

The organization recorded a $16,094 deficit for its fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020. The organization also experienced a loss in 2021.