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Council decides on Enrichment Center and Brooksville Main Street use of city funds

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By PAT RAIA
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The Brooksville City Council will pursue agreements with the Enrichment Center Inc. (ECI) and Brooksville Main Street (BMS) that will designate how those organizations use City funds allotted to them for Fiscal Year 2022.

Enrichment Centers Inc. is a 501c3 program for Seniors that operates out of the Mining Association building, an emergency shelter, and formerly the processing plant for the Brooksville Quarry. According to Mayor Pat Brayton, ECI is designated to receive $25,000 in public funds under the City’s 2022 budget.

“The object of the $25,000 was to try to give them enough funds to continue through the end of the year (and) to see what they were going to do since they lost their two huge sponsors,” Brayton said. “The money is going to go to ECI for their use as they wish.”

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During its regular meeting on Sept. 20, Councilmember Blake Bell told the panel that he would like to see ECI make quarterly reports to the city on its use of public funds. In addition, he supported the implementation of programs focused on cancer survivors and their families, and on providing programming for school children.

“Volunteers would be there to help – it would not be at additional cost to ECI – they have the classrooms set up already in that facility,” Bell said.

Both Mayor Pat Brayton and Vice Mayor Robert Battista welcomed the suggestions and encouraged Council members to make recommendations.

“I think whatever we come up with would be suggestions and staff could sit down with ECI and say these are the things we’d like,” Battista said.

Brayton agreed.

“I think at this point we have an idea of what we would like to see them do, then have our acting city manager set up a meeting with their executive director and try to work this out, and see what could be brought back to council for a formal type agreement,” Brayton said. “We have the money budgeted so we want to make sure it is available to them.”

During the same meeting, the Council voted 4-1 to designate city funds earmarked for use by Brooksville Main Street (BMS) to be used solely to pay salaries of that organization.

BMS is a nonprofit organization that promotes the economic development of the City’s downtown district. It is staffed by its executive director and its marketing and special events director.

Under the Brooksville budget for the fiscal year 2022, the organization is set to receive $50,000 in City funds.

Battista suggested that the City enter into an agreement with BMS that would require the organization to use public funds to pay its employees instead of providing the Council with detailed documents of the organization’s expenditures.

“The clean way (is) the salaries – it’s a done deal – you don’t have to inquire beyond that and I think the public purpose is satisfied,” Battista said. “ And they would sign a letter of agreement to that, and if they violate it we will talk about it next year.”

Battista made a motion to require BMS to enter into an agreement with the city that restricts the organization’s use of public funds to pay salaries.

The panel voted 4-1 in favor of the resolution with Betty Erhard casting the dissenting vote.

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