Carbondale public art funding in question
November 28, 2011
CARBONDALE – The Carbondale Public Arts Commission may have to discontinue its popular “Art aRound Town” public art program if the town of Carbondale is unable to come up with some more funding for next year.
As it stands, Carbondale’s draft 2012 budget includes $6,000 in funding for the arts commission. That’s half as much as the organization received this year from the town, and about a third of its total request for next year.
But, anything less than $12,000 and the arts commission (CPAC) will no longer be able to administer the program, according to a Nov. 11 letter from CPAC co-chairmen Mark Harris and Brad Sherman to the Carbondale Board of Trustees.
“Absent an increase in the amount budgeted by the town for CPAC for  to an amount not less than $12,000 … the CPAC has unanimously voted to terminate the ART program,” the letter states.
In addition to the few town-owned sculptures located around the downtown area in Carbondale, the ART program includes sculptures that are on loan from local and national artists for a year at a time.
There has also been interest from international artists in showcasing their work as part of the Carbondale program, according to Harris and Sherman.
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Replacing the art every two years, instead of annually, is not viable, they said, because artists are unlikely to obligate their sculptures for longer periods of time.
The CPAC request is just one on a long list of community grant proposals and other unfunded town departmental requests being considered as part of the 2012 town budget.
Trustees meet for a special budget session beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Carbondale Town Hall to consider the discretionary spending for the coming year. Final approval of the 2012 budget is anticipated at the board’s Dec. 6 meeting.
The town received $129,000 in requests from a variety of nonprofit human service, arts and recreation organizations and programs.
The proposed $5.1 million general fund budget for 2012 includes $55,300 to divvy up among those organizations. Some funding for those programs also comes out of the town’s special recreation sales tax fund.
In addition, the town has about $336,000 in unfunded budget requests from town-sponsored programs and specific departmental requests. That includes the arts commission, the Carbondale Chamber, Mountain Regional Housing and the Carbondale Economic Development Partnership, in addition to a new police patrol car, computer software for building and planning, and extra maintenance for trees in town parks.
In addition to projected sales taxes and other revenues to support the $5.1 million general fund budget for next year, the town is projecting a $4.8 million fund balance heading into 2012. Any of the extra community and departmental requests will likely have to come out of reserve funds, Carbondale Town Manager Jay Harrington said.
The draft 2012 municipal budget also still includes a 2 percent cost of living adjustment pay raise for town employees, he said.
Including the general fund, water and wastewater enterprise funds, recreation spending, capital projects and other special funds, Carbondale is proposing total spending in 2012 of around $12.8 million.