The Killeen City Council approved the allocation of more than $200,000 for the arts this week, but not before citing errors in the grant application process.
In accordance with the Texas Tax Code for Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax, the city has the authority to allocate one-seventh of hotel and motel tax collections as grants to promote the arts. For the 2015 fiscal year, the city can allocate $207,750. Nine organizations applied for grants.
While reviewing the Arts Commission’s recommendations Tuesday, Councilman Jonathan Okray called into question discrepancies in some of the applications.
“I am reviewing these things. ... I have some serious problems with the money. Throughout each of these nine (applications), there are serious problems with these,” he said.
Okray said there are discrepancies with Vive Les Arts’ operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year not matching “what’s common throughout” the application.
“The organization budgets no net income or net loss each year, and it could result in an error,” he said. “For Celebrate Killeen, one of the things incorrect that particularly sticks out is for Killeen Sister Cities, the 501(c)(3) tax exemption letter is not dated within the fiscal year.”
Ann Farris, assistant city manager, said the errors were not considered to be substantial by the Arts Commission, so it moved forward with bringing its recommendation to the council.
“When the arts commissioners were looking at the applications, there was a memo tucked in their notebook that (our accountant) put together,” Farris told the council. “(The accountant) noticed things throughout the applications that weren’t exactly right. The items were not considered to be substantial.”
She said the committee moved forward with the “commitment that (the accountant) would meet with each one of them ... and help them work through the things that were of concern.”
Following the discussion, the council unanimously agreed with the commission’s recommendations to disburse the funds.
The commission allocated $5,000 to Artesania y Cultura Hispana; $8,000 to Cultura Filipiniana; $22,000 to Four Winds Intertribal Society; $5,000 to Killeen Sister Cities; $12,000 for Celebrate Killeen; $10,000 to La Casa de Puerto Rico in Texas; $22,000 to Songhai Bamboo Roots Cultural Association; $70,000 to Vive Les Arts Societe; $23,000 to Vive Les Arts Children’s Theatre; and $20,000 for a downtown street event in Killeen.
Farris said the $20,000 was set aside for the council to collaborate with the commission to create an event downtown with art or music.
“The plan is to put together some rules of engagement over this, a framework, of how that money could be spent,” she said.
Farris said the commission hopes to bring “something that would be amazing for downtown” to the council to use the allocated $20,000 for.