Mayor Kasim Reed keeps political pressure on City Council for arts funding in next year’s budget

By David Pendered

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is continuing his campaign for the Atlanta City Council to double funding for the arts, as he has proposed in the city budget that’s to be adopted June 18.

The council is slated to meet Wednesday to consider amendments to the mayor’s $537 million budget proposal and forward its recommendation to the Finance/Executive Committee. On Wednesday evening, the council is to convene at 6 p.m. for a public hearing on the tax millage rate.

Reed has embraced the 50th anniversary of the plane crash in Orly, France to renew his push for the council to include the funds he requested. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the crash in which 122 arts patrons from Atlanta perished.

Reed has proposed doubling the allocation to arts funding in the FY2013 budget, to $940,000. The proposal would provide funds for the city’s planned initiative called “power2give,” which would provide matching grants of $2,500 to 40 projects.

On Friday, Reed’s office issued a media statement reminding of the mayor’s request for arts funding. The statement was titled: “Mayor Kasim Reed Proposes Increase for Arts Grant Funding in City of Atlanta.”

The statement says Reed discussed his plans for increased arts funding during a luncheon speech he presented to the Atlanta Rotary. The statement quotes Reed as telling the group:

“The leading cities of the world invest significantly in arts and culture, and Atlanta should be no different. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Orly plane crash, which had a dramatic impact on the city’s arts community and was one of the most tragic days in Atlanta’s history.

Leaders such as Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. and Robert Woodruff helped ensure that the spirit of the arts community would heal and continue to grow. I hope to do the same. The arts reflect our city’s soul,” Reed said.

The council has held a series of meetings in May to hear the funding requests presented by leaders of various city departments.

The proposed budget calls for no increase in the tax rate for city services. The city’s school system is not included in this funding proposal.

The budget proposal says city revenues are expected to decline from $552.1 million in fiscal 2010 to $526 million proposed in fiscal 2013. The city’s fiscal year begins July 1.

The drop in revenues is occurring because of the loss in property values as a result of the great recession. The decline happened despite the council’s decision for fiscal 2010 to increase the tax rate by about 42 percent in fiscal 2010, from 7.12 mill to 10.24 mills, according to the budget. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The city’s budget is based on the assumption that Fulton County’s tax commissioner will collect 96 percent of the taxes due in the city.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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