Arts Council Funding Agreements OKed by CS Council

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Two of three funding agreements between the City of College Station and the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley were approved by the city council Thursday night, though one councilmember asked for assurances updates on the arts would be in the open.

The city council voted 4-1 in favor of funding agreements totaling $240,000 for the Arts Council. The group remains under a microscope following the arrest of former director P. David Romei, who is accused of stealing arts and city money and using it for his own personal purposes.

Mayor Pro Tem Ron Gay, who acted as mayor Thursday evening with Mayor Ben White out of town, remains the lone councilmember against the funding. As he did when the original budget request was up for a vote, Gay was the lone dissenting vote out of the seven councilmembers.

In addition to White, Councilmember John Crompton was also not present.

Their colleague, Chris Scotti, asked for assurances from city staff that newly-required quarterly updates on the use of that funding be put on their agenda, and not done behind the scenes. The council mandated the use of Arts Council funding be reviewed regularly.

"If you receive a report on something and we get an e-mail monthly, that's fine," Scotti said to staff. "I'd rather err on the side of too much information than the other way around for this next year."

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Kursten said those quarterly updates would, indeed, make it to council agendas.

In total, the council has agreed to provide $440,000 to the arts council. Thursday's approval was for two of three funding agreements, one for $100,000 from hotel tax dollars, the other for $140,000 from the city's general fund. That $240,000 is for operations and maintenance costs.

The remaining $200,000 agreement, which is for the funding of affiliates, will be considered at a future council meeting.