Arts council, town board clash over financial commitment |

Arts council, town board clash over financial commitment

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” The Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities and some town trustees are a little at odds over the town’s level of financial commitment to the nonprofit organization this year.

“We’re not really here asking for money, but we did feel like we were not very diligent in following up during the town’s grant cycle last fall,” CCAH board president Joe Scofield said at a Tuesday night work session. “We felt like we were being penalized a little bit, because we were doing some things right to secure our longevity.”

CCAH had applied last fall for a $10,000 grant from the town’s community requests fund to help with operating expenses and to support its various programs, ranging from concerts and fine art exhibits to a variety of art education programs in the local schools.

Nonprofit organizations are invited to apply for community grants each year as part of the town’s budget cycle. Most are awarded, but usually at somewhat lesser levels than requested.

Instead of making a grant to CCAH, though, trustees upped the town’s level of funding for the summer music series to $8,000, from $6,500 the previous two years. That money comes out of a separate recreation fund for special events.

A number of years ago, the town also helped facilitate a property exchange that gave CCAH a valuable downtown lot that had been owned by the town, which CCAH then sold for a sizable profit.

That money was put into an endowment fund to help secure the organization’s future, Scofield said.

The town did take that into consideration when it came to future financial allocations to CCAH, Mayor Michael Hassig said.

“I believe that clearly demonstrated a commitment from the town to CCAH,” Hassig said. “There were real cash outlays booked on our budget to help make that happen.”

Trustee Pam Zentmyer added that the town bears a variety of expenses related to special events, including the annual Carbondale Mountain Fair, such as police and public works overtime.

“It is substantial, and it’s not to be overlooked,” she said.

Other trustees said the reduced level of funding for CCAH this year, which in total is about $1,000 less, simply had to do with the town’s need to tighten its budget belt due to the economic downturn.

CCAH was one of two nonprofit organizations, along with another that’s in the works, who made presentations Tuesday with an eye toward a future financial commitment from the town.

Also present was Computers 4 Kids (C4K), which had also applied for $10,000 this year to fund the new Partnering For Success Center and received $1,000. The new Roaring Fork Business Resource Center, which is being formed by former Carbondale Chamber director Randi Lowenthal, also seeks $10,000 per year in economic development funds from the town to apply toward a matching grant.

Mayor Hassig started off the meeting by saying any specific funding requests would be taken under advisement and likely discussed in the context of a broader budget review that is planned for next Tuesday’s regular town council meeting.

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