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.
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.
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.