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HomeBusiness & CommunityCouncil Votes for New Brooksville Main Street Contract

Council Votes for New Brooksville Main Street Contract

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The Brooksville City Council has unanimously decided that the city should draft a new contract that will fund Brooksville Main Street for the upcoming year and help the organization move toward self-sufficiency.

During the administration of former Mayor Pat Brayton, the City of Brooksville and the non-profit economic development organization Brooksville Main Street entered into an agreement whereby the city would allocate $50,000 from its budget to be used specifically by the agency to pay the salaries of permanent staff members.

Before that, the $50,000 allocation may have also been used to underwrite the costs of specific programming. According to Mayor Blake Bell, keeping track of the agency’s use of those funds in that way was cumbersome.

“I believe (city clerk) Jennifer (Battista) had to collect receipts from Brooksville Main Street and it was a headache because you have a $7,500 event here and you have a $2,500 event there and you’re adding up all these events to make the grand $50,000,” he said. “We tied it to salaries because it made it easier.”

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Now, however, Bell said that the organization had run into certain financial challenges and needed to return to the previous contractual language specifying the use of city-allocated funds provided by the city.

“The money that we have given Brooksville Main Street this year needs to be used for staff, but it also needs to be used for some programming costs that were incurred under the last executive director,” he said. Former Brooksville Main Street Executive Director Natalie Kahler resigned in September, effective Oct. 15.

For example, the organization still owes the city $2,328 in connection with the Fancy Flea street fair and vintage market that took place in February. “We can either ask Brooksville Main Street to pay that or we can ask for half of it or we can forgive that payment completely depending on which direction this council wants to take,” Bell said. “I obviously think that we can give them some flexibility (to use city-donated funds) for programming.”

Representing Brooksville Main Street, Lee Johnson told the panel that the organization had faced several fiscal challenges in the past year.
“Nonprofits everywhere have been struggling,” Johnson said. “Some of our sponsors, who are regular sponsors and have businesses in other counties, have directed some of the normal funds that they’d be using for sponsorship here in Brooksville to other areas.”

She also said that insurance and other costs unexpectedly rose. “Normally, we would be able to have our insurance under the Florida Main Street program and all our events were covered under that, but The Blueberry Festival asked us to buy a more than $10,000 insurance policy very unexpectedly,” she said. “Also, the cost for (law enforcement ) went through the roof – for the Multicultural (Festival), there was a completely unexpected fee for deputies where normally we’d have community policing group take care of that.”

Johnson said that if the council chose to adopt a new contract, the organization would reevaluate the profitability of the events it sponsors annually and reduce its calendar to focus on events that “we can actually do and do it without losing money.”

She also told the panel that the organization is seeking more cost-effective insurance providers and reevaluating its grant-seeking process.
“A lot of people don’t know that many of the grants we apply for actually benefit the city and the city would not have been able to apply for those dollars without having a nonprofit partner,” Johnson said. “What we got in the ($50,000) donation from the city we were over $100,000 in grants, so we’re really trying to focus on that – that we’re bringing a lot of grant value to the city.”

Finally, Council Member Christa Tanner, who is also the city’s liaison to the Brooksville Main Street organization, moved to allow the attorney to draft an agreement to present to Brooksville Main Street that would authorize the mayor to sign such an agreement that allows city-provided funds to be used for general programming and for the payment of salary wages.

“I’m excited about Brooksville Main Street,” Tanner said. “I think we have come leaps and bounds from being two separate organizations to together as one in terms of partnership for the greater good for the city of Brooksville.” The motion passed by a 5-0 margin.

Tanner also made a motion to waive the $2,328 fee that Brooksville Main Street owes the city in connection with the Fancy Flea event.
That motion was seconded by Council Member Casey Thieryung and passed by a vote of 5-0.

Bell said that the new contract will be a significant step in allowing the organization to move forward toward eventual self-sufficiency.
“We (the City of Brooksville) always want to be a partner, but I would love to see Brooksville Main Street self-sufficient to the point where $50,000 is not going to keep the organization alive and well,” Bell said.

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