The Key Biscayne Community Foundation has been under attack by a group of disgruntled residents for months. It was shocking to see those attacks repeated by Councilmember Segurola, who under the guise of “transparency” disparaged the Foundation and what it does for our community at the Budget Hearing on June 18, 2019. Mr. Segurola did not ask questions about the work of the Foundation or do any investigation before declaring that it is a “big problem,” and that the arrangement between the Village and the Foundation is “just wrong and bad policy.” Other councilmembers defended the Foundation and tried to explain to Mr. Segurola that he was misinformed. But, he dug in, and did damage to the reputation of the Foundation and its professional and volunteer leadership in the process.
The Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, whose mission is to enable, facilitate, and empower residents to make a positive difference in the local, greater, and global community through programs, grant making, fiscal sponsorship, and community leadership. In June 2015, recognizing the important role of the Foundation to our community, the Village began providing previously unused office space to the Foundation without charging rent. In the 2016 Village Budget, and every year thereafter, the Village Council has approved $125,000 in funding to the Foundation to partially fund environmental, health and wellness, and cultural programming, civic engagement, communications, advocacy, a shared workspace, and grants. These funds do not come to the KBCF automatically; rather, the Foundation submits invoices and status reports on each item of funding quarterly.
With this Village funding, and other monies raised through grants and private donors, KBCF coordinates the Citizen Scientist Project, water quality testing, the Community Newsletter, the Life Enhancement Forum, Wellness in the Schools, The Key Challenge, and cultural programming including art and author lectures and concerts, to name a few of the things the Foundation does. The extensive and successful programming that has been provided to the community through the Village’s financial support of the KBCF should be recognized as money well spent.
Mr. Segurola suggested that the Village should take over this programming. While that is certainly possible, the Village would have to hire staff to do so at a cost that is likely to quickly exceed $125,000. In addition, the Village would not be able to raise additional funds to fully fund these activities and it would be more challenging to recruit and manage volunteer resources.
Also, Mr. Segurola took issue with the Foundation acting as a “pass-through” for other community groups, including the 4th of July Parade Committee, The Historical Society, and the ASK Club, stating that the money should go directly to these vendors, not to the Foundation. Mr. Segurola does not understand the concept of “fiscal sponsorship,” a service the Foundation provides to many organizations. These organizations are not independent; they use the Foundation as their administrative home, allowing these groups to minimize administration costs and maximize tax-payer dollars and private donations. This organizational structure is not “improper.”
Additionally, the Village frequently utilizes the Foundation to help with projects that benefit our community. For example, the Foundation has been managing Freebee for the Village since 2015 and assisted the Village with noise level testing during Ultra. The Foundation is not compensated by the Village to do these additional tasks.
Unlike most Village vendors and contractors, the Foundation makes no profit from the funds received from the Village. And, its tax returns are public record, and detail all administrative expenses and funds received from the Village each year. What you will find when you review these documents is an extremely well run organization that manages to do a lot with very little.
The Foundation represents the best of our community: people coming together to do good. There are things that need to be fixed on Key Biscayne, but the Foundation and its relationship with the Village is not one of them.