Lewis: Total is ‘a joke.’ Landon: Should tax money support art profits?
Parks and Recreation Director Luann Santangelo revealed Tuesday, Nov. 30, to the City Council the list of cultural arts grants recipients this year. The city awarded $20,000 to 11 organizations, including the African American Cultural Society, the Flagler Auditorium and the Hispanic American Club of Palm Coast — primarily for help with marketing their events.
The City Council voted this summer to reduce its cultural arts grants because of a lack of eligible applicants last year. Santangelo said she changed the criteria this year to allow festivals to be eligible for funding. However, organizations such as the Flagler County Art League, which according to their submitted budgets would make a profit this year, were given less money than other organizations.
After the awards were announced at the workshop, City Council member Bill Lewis said the organizations were not being treated fairly.
“These organizations existed before we became a city, and they did things for the community,” Lewis said. “Now we’re a city, and we are still looking at these organizations as a pain in the neck.”
“(We’re saying) if they’re going to make a profit, we can’t fund them,” he continued. “But their profit is really not a profit. It’s enough to carry expenses … Twenty-thousand dollars for a city this size is really a joke …
We’re giving more than that to outside organizations who make a profit.”
He added: “I think we should do a little more for these organizations than just give them lip service. We always say we’re a diversified community, but we only allocate $20,000 to assist them.”
City Council member Holsey Moorman responded: “I think this argument is misplaced. This is not budget time. We put this in the budget, and here is what we budgeted.”
City Manager Jim Landon said the City Council could reallocate funds, but he recommended against it. He argued that profit was a viable criterion for dividing up the grant money.
He asked: “If you’re going to make money, should tax dollars go to support it?”
INCENTIVES FOR ICEMAN
The city detailed, at the workshop, a package of incentives to entice Project Iceman, a heretofore-unnamed manufacturer of thermal-electric solar products, to locate in the city limits.
According to the presentation Tuesday, Nov. 30, the city is prepared to offer the company a 10-year tax abatement package, including 100% abatement for the first four years. The incentives will depend on the company investing $49 million in capital and hiring 180 people according to schedule within three years. The city will also help pay to relocate high-wage earners.
“We have a good opportunity to land this company,” Senior Planner Beau Falgout said. “The incentives are important based on the concerns Project Iceman has expressed.”
Mayor Jon Netts suggested the city also discuss tax abatement options with the county to help the company decide to relocate here.