COLUMBIA — City commissions and members of the public made their voices heard at a public hearing for the 2012 fiscal year budget Monday.
Members of three commissions discussed their recommendations with the City Council and members of the public.
The Community Development Commission and City Manager Mike Matthes agree that the following projects should be funded with the following amounts:
- $100,000 for Columbia Housing Authority Paquin and Oak Towers fire-suppression-system improvements
- $95,500 for Boone County Family Health Center facility rehabilitation
- $90,300 for CDBG administration*
- $85,500 for Job Point heavy and highway construction and nursing training programs
- $49,000 for Reality House Inc. Transitional Housing Renovation
- $40,000 for phase two of the Worley Street Sidewalk project*
- $40,000 for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation*
- $40,000 for minor home repair (Emergency repair program/Neighborhood Response Team code deficiency abatement program)*
- $38,500 for the Central Missouri Community Action micro-loan and supportive services program
- $36,000 for Boone County Council on Aging home repair program
- $35,500 for NRT area demolition
- $35,000 for NRT code enforcement*
- $33,200 for CDBG Planning*
- $25,000 for Services for Independent Living RAMP program
- $15,000 for homebuyer education classes*
- $11,500 for Fair Housing compliance
*denotes programs run by the city of Columbia
If the City Council approves the proposed budget, the following art groups, organized by commission approval rating, will receive city funding:
- Ragtag Programming for Film and Media Art $7,838
- Theater Reaching Young People and Schools (TRYPS) $7,286
- University Concert Series/UMC $7,248
- Columbia Art League $6,911
- School of Service, Inc. — Access Arts $6,516
- Columbia Entertainment Company Comm. Theater $6,516
- Missouri Contemporary Ballet $6,140
- We Always Swing Jazz Series $6,140
- Columbia Community Band $3,053
- Mid-Missouri Traditional (Country) Dancers $4,015
- Columbia Civic Orchestra $5,378
- Performing Arts in Children’s Education $5,289
- Maplewood Barn Community Theatre $5,172
- Columbia Chorale, Inc. $5,085
- Columbia Handbell Ensemble, Inc. $1,000
- Odyssey Chamber Music Series, Inc. $4,695
- Missouri Symphony Society $4,535
- Mid-Missouri Woodcarvers, Inc. $1,000
- Independent Actors Theatre $2,183
Community Development Commission
Mitchell Ritter, the Second Ward representative on the Community Development Commission, discussed how an estimated $1.3 million in government grants will be spent in the city.
Every year, the commission gets a Community Development Block Grant that funds a variety of projects. It also oversees a grant for the HOME program, which is “designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website.
The projects received full funding from City Manager Mike Matthes, so the commission did not have to make any cuts.
The commission gave an overview of the $770,000 block grant and reviewed the applications of 16 proposed programs. Matthes recommended 12 projects for full funding and four for partial funding.
“It was another busy year,” Ritter said. “We had a lot of applications and we were hopeful and thankful that we didn’t have to turn away or reduce funding on very many of those applications this year.”
The biggest beneficiary of these recommendations is the city government, which would receive $329,000 for eight programs. These programs include continued sidewalk work on Worley Street, housing rehabilitation and home-buyer education classes.
An additional $95,500 will be used to renovate the Family Health Center at 1001 W. Worley St. This is the first time the health center received block grant funds.
Steve Long, director of planning and development for the health center, expressed appreciation the center received all it had asked for.
“While our mission is primary medical care, our focus is on serving the underserved,” Long said.
Uninsured, underinsured and those on Medicaid stand to benefit from the renovations to the center, he said.
Matthes also said he was glad the process was easy.
“This is one of those rare years where the board, the staff and the city manager agree on everything,” he said.
Boone County Community Services Advisory Commission
Cathy Thorpe, representative for the Boone County Community Services Advisory Commission, explained why specific recommendations were not ready for this meeting.
Due to a new review process that was recently approved by City Council and implemented, recommendations won’t be made until December, she said. The commission will issue recommendations on how the city should fund social service programs for 13 organizations offering 22 program services.
Commission on Cultural Affairs
Nineteen arts groups applied for city funding during the upcoming fiscal year through the Commission on Cultural Affairs. These 19 organizations requested $161,195 from the Office of Cultural Affairs, but if the city manager's proposed budget is approved, the commission will award $99,000 to help fund programs such as the True/False Film Festival and Columbia Art League’s Art in the Park in 2012.
Several groups, including Missouri Contemporary Ballet and Columbia Access Arts, requested the maximum amount of $10,000.
The Columbia Handbell Ensemble requested the smallest amount of funding at $1,500.
The commission's vice chairman, Aaron Krawitz, said some people may question public dollars spent on programs other than basic services in tough economic times.
“With this in mind, it is important to note that the amount the city allocates to arts agencies has not increased since 2008,” Krawitz said. “City arts funding is helping to provide live theater and music and dance experiences to children who would not otherwise have these opportunities."
In a letter to the City Council members, commission Chair Addison Myers estimated that more than 130,000 citizens and visitors will participate in city-funded arts activities and events this year. The letter also stated that funding the arts would encourage people to spend additional money in the community.
The University Concert Series was able to provide 12 community outreach events last year, said Lisa Weaver, speaking on behalf of the organization. Performers at the concert series rented about 1,000 hotel rooms last year, Weaver said.
"They stayed in Columbia, they ate in local restaurants, they shopped at the mall and downtown businesses, and they filled up hundreds of trucks — big trucks — with gas, paying sales tax all the way."
That does not count the 75,000 people who attended those events, including ticket buyers from 29 states, she said.
Krawitz called the partnership of the city and arts organizations “an important investment in the culture of Columbia for residents and visitors,” and noted Columbia was the first city in Missouri to be named a "creative community" by the Missouri Arts Council in 2007, an award given to the city for its use of arts to foster tourism and economic development.
The City Council will hold two more public hearings on the proposed budget at its regular meetings next month, which are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 6 and Sept. 19.