BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority Board members are scrutinizing a $2.5 million annual budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Cutting funding to at least one nonprofit agency and calling for more accountability from another were discussed Tuesday as ways the DDA can do more with its dollars.
Besides funding its own goals, the DDA also helps fund other agencies such as Realize Bradenton, Workforce Funders Collaborative and the 14th Street Community Redevelopment Agency District.
The DDA is funding about 55 percent of Realize Bradenton's budget and another $40,000 is earmarked for the Workforce Funders Collaborative.
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A three-year deal to help fund WFC expires this year and the board could terminate the agreement.
The board agreed the goal in funding nonprofits is to provide seed money until alternate sources of funding are established. It was never meant to be perpetual, board members said.
Realize Bradenton is a logical tie-in to the DDA with its similar goals and was initially fully funded. A decrease to 55 percent funding was proposed for the next fiscal year.
Vernon DeSear, DDA chairman and chairman of Realize Bradenton's Board, said more accountability in Realize Bradenton's spending is needed.
He said there is never enough information on spending even for Realize Bradenton Board members. Of the DDA's $331,000 proposed downtown and events promotion budget, more than $220,000 is devoted to Realize Bradenton.
"If we are funding events, there is accountability, but my feeling is that there is a tendency to do what they want to do and I feel there is not enough accountability," said DeSear.
Executive Director David Gustafson said Realize Bradenton's audits continually show "above board and detailed" spending practices, but said he will discussed providing more event spending information to the DDA board.
DeSear said how the DDA and Realize Bradenton can best work together should be discussed.
"It needs to be a common goal to have a continued discussion as to where we see a need for events," he said. "Rather than us attending a meeting one time and they act like we are not involved. I want to them to see us as we are, which is very strongly intertwined."
The DDA budget is estimated in excess of $2.5 million, more than half of it paid back to Manatee County in the sum of more than $1.5 million in Tax Increment Funding based on a deal made several years ago, which allows the DDA to keep it for a year, use the interest and then pay it back in full.
It was meant as an incentive to keep Manatee County government buildings downtown. The deal expires in 2017, at which time the DDA will retain the county portion of TIF funds.
After at least one more workshop, the DDA budget will be presented to Bradneton City Council for approval in September.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.