Federal 450th commission to spend $50k

300-TOILET-MONEYSince it was created, March 30, 2009, many Historic City News readers have commented that the St Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission has been substantially invisible to city residents and taxpayers.

All the ballyhooed benefits, bantered about during city commission meetings and local 450th commemoration workshops, never materialized — because, although the government created the federal operating commission, it did not appropriate any funding.

The Commission was established to:

  1. Plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities appropriate to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the founding of the city of St Augustine, Florida;
  2. Facilitate St Augustine related activities throughout the United States;
  3. Encourage civic, patriotic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, economic, and other organizations throughout the United States to organize and participate in anniversary activities to expand the understanding and appreciation of the significance of the founding and continuing history of St Augustine;
  4. Provide technical assistance to states, localities, and non-profit organizations to further the commemoration;
  5. Coordinate and facilitate for the public: scholarly research on, publication about, and interpretation of, St Augustine;
  6. Ensure that the 450th anniversary of St Augustine provides a lasting legacy and long-term public benefit by assisting in the development of appropriate program and facilities;
  7. Help ensure that the observances of the foundation of St Augustine are inclusive and appropriately recognize the experience and heritage of all individuals present when St Augustine was founded;
  8. Prepare a strategic plan for the activities of the Commission

Historic City News has learned that on Monday night’s regular meeting of the St Augustine City Commission, City Attorney, Ronald W. Brown, has requested that a proposed Cooperative Agreement between the United States Department of Interior National Park Service and the City, be approved, without discussion, via the infamous “consent agenda”.

Finally, in the last year before our anniversary, it appears that the National Park Service wants the City to accept a transfer of $50,000 to be used to compensate an “executive director” and for meeting costs for the federal commission.

“The appointee will not be an employee or independent contractor of the City,” Brown told the City Manager, John Regan.  “They will report only to and be supervised directly by the Federal Commission.”  For reasons that don’t make much sense, neither the Department nor the Park Service can pay the money directly to the yet un-named executive director.

The enabling legislation, Public Law 111-1 1, section 7404, does require one final action by the federal commission.  They are responsible to complete and submit to Congress, not later than September 30, 2015, a final report that contains:

1) A summary of the activities of the Commission;
2) A final accounting of funds received and expended by the Commission; and
3) Findings and recommendations of the Commission.

That should be a real page-turner.

If you plan to attend, the City Commission Meeting will be held Monday night, February 24, beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the Alcazar Room of the City Hall Building located at 75 King Street in St Augustine. You can watch the meeting live on Comcast Government Television channel 3.

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