Palmetto debates funding strategy for nonprofits

jtate@bradenton.comSeptember 17, 2013 

PALMETTO -- The Palmetto City Commission approved the first reading of its$22.4 million budget proposal Monday evening during a special meeting.

Funding nonprofits properly became a point of discussion.

Commissioner Brian Williams said the city is shortchanging its representation at the Manatee County Fair. He said the city should invest more in materials to help promote Palmetto's Community Redevelopment Agency.

"The thing that I'm trying to point out is 155,000 people come through the fair," said Williams.

The commission talked about eliminating its booth at the fair. Williams opposed the belt-tightening.

"We need to present the city to those people and represent the CRA," Williams said. "I think it's a reason for us to have a booth over there."

Williams compared funding for the fair, which was $2,000 in 2012, versus the non-existent backing for the Gulf Coast Rhythm and Ribfest.

Commissioner Charles Smith said city funding for nonprofit organizations must be fair. He said this is the year Ribfest should gain city funding although they did not talk specific amounts.

"If you stop funding for Ribfest, then I will picket City Hall," said Smith of the funding proposal.

Smith said the city has never funded Ribfest and the only difference between the two events is one brings in many black people from across the state and country.

"I support both events, but I will not pick one over the other," said Smith.

Williams agreed and said the city should be represented at both events.

Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said funding for the events is not specifically itemized in the budget.

"I do want to establish a criteria so that we are totally fair in our sponsorships. I never want to be one-faceted," she said.

She said the city is still working on how to address giving CRA funding to nonprofits.

"We have to make sure that we comply with all the guidelines and make sure our CRA funding is used for the right purposes," said Bryant.

During the meeting, CRA Director Jeff Burton said his organization must account for ever dollar it spends.

Bryant said some CRAs have been questioned for funding nonprofits.

"We're going to have to look at this carefully," said Bryant.

However, she said she is pleased with the budget and the healthy debates over various items.

"I think that we are moving forward. I wouldn't want them all to sit here and have one mind," said Bryant. "You have a few glitches, but you move on."

The second and final reading of the proposed budget will be held 7 p.m. Sept. 23.

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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