Breaking News: Dade Arts Groups Get Extra $1.5 Million; Gimenez Proposes Budget With No Cuts To The Arts

By Bill Hirschman

About 200 arts organization in Miami-Dade County will split an unexpected $1.5 million this fall because of a rebound in tourism, Mayor Carlos Gimenez told an elated crowd of arts administrators Tuesday afternoon.

Carlos Gimenez

The gathering of more than 100 arts supporters was even more grateful after a second announcement: Gimenez’s proposed 2012-2013 budget does not cut funding for arts, recreation, parks and libraries. That budget must still be approved by the rest of the county commission following public hearings Sept. 6 and 20. It contains about $15 million in cultural grants from the general fund which comes from property taxes.

The announcements came during a town hall meeting at Coral Gables Congregational Church organized by the county’s Department of Cultural Affairs to explain the budget proposal.

The supporters were enthusiastic about the budget proposal; dozens lined up at a microphone to thank Gimenez who is seeking reelection this month. Still, a few asked that the county consider restoring the estimated 30 percent in funding cuts that have occurred over the past four years.

Jennifer Moon

The bed tax windfall was not predicted a year ago. The county had budgeted $3.231 million in revenue from the tax on tourists using hotels for the current 2011-2012 fiscal year, said Jennifer Moon, county budget director. But an increase in tourism – plus a carryover of unused funds from the previous year – provided another $1.5 million to distribute.

The money will be allocated during the next two months based on existing formulas specific to each of the 200-plus grantees. The additional amounts, still being calculated, would likely range from just under $1,000 to just over $40,000, Moon said.

As far as the upcoming budget, Gimenez said the lack of further cuts to the $15 million for arts and recreation was due, in part, to two years of reorganization of the bureaucracy into fewer departments and to layoffs.

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