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August 14th, 2014

Council: plea for funded groups to report falling on deaf ears

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t’s a plea that has been made again and again at Village Council budget workshops – better reporting from the groups the Council supports financially – but yet again local leaders said it doesn’t appear some of the beneficiaries are getting the message.
At this year’s June 17 workshop on the Fiscal Year 2015 proposed budget, Vice Mayor Michael Davey and Council members Michael Kelly and Ed London stressed the importance of getting reports from groups under their budget, specifically Art in Public Places and the Key Biscayne Historical and Heritage Society.
“They’re asking for more money, and this is the time to talk about plans going forward,” Kelly said. “You need to justify what we’re giving you money for. We’re doling out public funds – tell us what you’re doing. It’s not unreasonable.
“We aren’t being good stewards if we aren’t doing this.”
After Village Manager John Gilbert assured the Council the groups were told of the requirement, both Davey and London suggested perhaps they shouldn’t be funded if they don’t report during the Council’s first budget hearing September 9.
“They have to be here at the first budget hearing or we have to consider what we’re going to do,” Davey said, calling for information that supports the Council’s spending.
“Give them until September. If they haven’t done it, they’re cut off.”
London added, “We should know what benefits we get for the money we expend on any of these groups. Everything should be evaluated on an annual basis – you don’t just throw money away without knowing what’s happening with it.
If the groups don’t come back, London said, “Fine, then we don’t give the money.”
Mayor Frank Caplan said he thinks that’s a little harsh – “I don’t agree with that,” he said. “We don’t want to cut them off. We just want them to comply. Let’s just get them to report.”
Council member Jim Taintor added doing so is part of an ever-improving budget process: “We get better and better each year at this,” he said.
While the Council hopes to hear directly from APP and KBHHS members September 9, Village officials offered some basics at the June 17 workshop.
Gilbert said the Historical Society is transitioning since the death of founding member Dr. Bob Maggs, and he’s working with them on a report.
Council member Theo Holloway, a member of the group, said possible projects include finding highly-trafficked places, like the Key Biscayne Community Center, to display artifacts the group has collected. “I think having a room dedicated to cultural access does not give them the same level of visibility as putting them in places where people are already passing,” Holloway noted.
Caplan suggested doing both: “We could have moments throughout the Village.”
Meanwhile, Building, Zoning and Planning Director Jud Kurlancheek, staff liaison to the Art Board, said the group’s current project – a sundial on the Village Green by artist Jim Drain – is well underway. “It should be in the ground in September,” he said.
Kurlancheek added the board is now planning for its next installation.

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