What to do with this $500,000

Historic City News local reporters will learn tomorrow afternoon what is to be done with $500,000 in bed tax collected by the St Johns County Tourist Development Council; when the Arts, Culture & Heritage Funding Panel evaluates $1,240,215 in recently scored requests.

With $1.2 million in requests from 36 local non-profit organizations, all of whom believe their program is deserving of funding, and only $500,000 in funds to go around, some programs will win — and some will lose.

An analysis of the scores assessed by the seven evaluators has been compiled and ranked by staff. Five different event-funding scenarios were provided to the members:

A: Everyone gets something.
B: Only the top half is funded.
C: Only those with score of 70 and above are funded.
D: Only those with score of 60 and above are funded.
E: Only those with score of 50 and above are funded.

The members evaluated funding requests from regional events, programs and enhancement events. Eric Doten is the only Funding Panel member to have been reseated after six of the seven seats were vacated last month by former members who had to choose between their unpaid seat and serving as officers or directors of not-for-profit organizations who apply for funding.

The other evaluators were Adam Shockey, Kerri Post, Barbara Sarvis, Scott Adkins, Trudy Wild and Cyndi Humphrey.

A cursory look at how the freshman panel members ranked the applicant’s requests is interesting.

One decision to watch will be the City of St Augustine 450th Commemoration request for $100,000 to help fund the controversial “Picasso Exhibition” at the Visitor Information Center.

Coincidently, when the City Commission convenes later the same day, commissioners will hear a request from City Manager John Regan for permission to transfer funds from city reserves to meet marketing and other expenses associated with the exhibit — which is still, like so many parts of the 450th Commemoration, tentative and unconfirmed.

The evaluators ranked the City’s “Picasso Exhibition” request 30th out of 36 — near the bottom of the list. The funding panel will have to agree to fund everyone, or, at least those who scored a minimum of 50 percent, in order for the City to receive any money. If that degree of leeway were approved, the exhibition would only receive $33,204.

The top-ranked request that is certain to receive funds is from St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum for their “Sea Your History Festival”. They have asked for $81,000.00. The bottom-ranked request that is only likely to receive funds if the panel decides to fund everyone, regardless of their score, is from Children’s Museum of St Johns for their “Explorer’s Package”. They have asked for $50,000.00.

If you are planning to attend — the Arts, Culture & Heritage Funding Panel meeting will be held on Monday, July 9, beginning at 1:00 p.m., in the San Sebastian Conference Room at the County Administration Building located at 500 San Sebastian View in St Augustine.

If you are planning to attend — the regular St Augustine City Commission meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m. Monday and will be held in the Alcazar Room; on the first floor of the west wing of City Hall, located at 75 King Street in St. Augustine. It will be broadcast live on Comcast Government TV (Cable Channel 3) and is streamed over the Internet.

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