TDC hears expanded funding recommendations


400-SPENDING-THE-BED-TAXWhen Chairman Bill Hughes convenes the meeting of the St Johns County Tourist Development Council Monday afternoon, the members will face a host of financial action items; which, if passed, will advance to the Board of County Commissioners for approval.

First up after public comments, the Council will hear grant funding recommendations for Fiscal 2014 from the controversial Arts, Culture, and Heritage Funding Panel.

This is the second time the Council has viewed the grant recommendations. At their last meeting on July 15, the Council instructed the Funding Panel to revisit the applications and allocate the full amount budgeted of $550,000, and to take a look at all geographic locations or zip codes to make sure that all areas are considered.

The Funding Panel met again on August 12, 2013. The Panel reviewed the applicants that did not originally receive funding. Without re-evaluating the scoring of the applications, the decision was made to lower the qualifying score from 70 to 65. The Panel has recommended funding applicants that scored 65 or above.

Added to those events previously included:

Chamber of Commerce ($8,328 for the Ponte Vedra Auto Show)
St Augustine Beach ($25,000 for the Beach Blastoff)
Limelight Theatre ($23,334 for four productions)
St Augustine Orchestra ($10,480 for its Celebration of African Music)

Applicants for this category of funding from the local option tourist development tax are scored on five factors. Varying weight is placed on the factors. The least is lodging and hospitality partnerships; earning the applicant a maximum of five points, out of 100. Demonstrated program management capability can earn a maximum of 10 points and a maximum of 25 points can be earned for the relationship of the program schedule to the demand period, with “off season” events receiving a higher score. The majority of the points are awarded between two factors — cultural development programming and presentation, as well as the marketing and advertising plan to attract visitors; each of the two factors can earn 30 points, for a total of 60 points.

Dissatisfaction with what some are calling a subjective process, allegedly rife with favoritism, led to recent complaints by some organizations who question the methods employed to distribute the millions of dollars annually in bed tax money, the choice of which organizations will receive funding, and which will not.

Historic City News published details of written complaints from the City of St Augustine Beach, the St Augustine Beach Civic Association, the St Augustine Art Association, Romanza and the Celtic Music and Heritage Festival, which were aired during the Panel’s meeting on August 12th.

To see the individual scores awarded by each of the Funding Panel members to each of the applicants, read our previous article.

If you plan to attend, the meeting of the St Johns County Tourist Development Council will be held on Monday, August 26, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. in the County Auditorium at the St Johns County Administrative Palace located at 500 San Sebastian View in St Augustine. The meeting is open to the public and public comments may be made in accordance with the agenda.