City committee makes tough calls on funding
With a referendum on diverting 12.5 percent of Local Option Sales Tax revenue to the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center looming, the Fairfield City Council Ways and Means Committee had to make some tough calls on funding this year.
Many organizations that have received considerable sums in the past will be making do with less or no L.O.S.T. funding. City needs took top priority in divvying up the revenue designated for community betterment.
In past years, the ways and means committee has divided the money intended for community betterment in two — spending half on essential city needs and half on organizations requesting financial assistance. This year, the committee again split the fund in two, leaving roughly half untouched.
Of the $112,654 to be spent, $81,554 has been awarded to city projects and equipment. The remaining $31,100 has been awarded to organizations and projects councilman Myron Gookin termed “the gravy.”
Ultimately, whether or not “gravy” items got funded came down to the committee’s judgment, Gookin explained. Past funding often plays heavily into the decision.
L.O.S.T. has enabled the city to support a lot of organizations and projects, but it’s “not a guaranteed handout every year,” Gookin said. “It’s going to be a year to year process.”
Applications from organizations prepared to supply matching funds also are viewed more favorably.
“We really like to see public-private partnerships in these kinds of things,” Gookin said.
He said it’s not unusual for an organization to be awarded less money than requested. This year, with less funds available, was no different.
The Jefferson County Trails Council, which has been given more than $190,000 in the last 10 years, was awarded half its request — $2,500.
Trails council president Ron Blair said donations will be sought to cover the rest. With the city’s trail system nearly complete, Blair said the council simply didn’t need as much money this year, but he was appreciative of the generous funding in previous years.
Terry Baker, president of the Fairfield 1st Fridays Art Walk board, shared Blair’s sentiments.
“We never look at L.O.S.T. funds as being our sole source of support,” she said. The art walk applied for $40,000 and was awarded $16,000. Baker said the event also relies on fundraising and grants for its continuation, and organizers adjust the budget to fit the available funding.
The art walk has received $47,000 in the last two years.
“We understand that right now the city is looking at how to spread the funds and make everyone happy, which never happens with limited funds,” Baker said.
“A lot of people need assistance. We understand and completely agree with splitting the money up differently,” said Tammy Jones of the Live on the Square board.
She said the $750 awarded to Live on the Square will go toward the general costs of sponsoring four to five events this summer. Live on the Square applied for $1,500 — the amount the event has received annually the last four years.
For the complete article, see the Thursday, March 18, 2010, printed edition of The Fairfield Ledger.