County Panel To Review Bid For Arts Center Subsidy
By Suzy Valentine
The Miami Performing Arts Center is closer to gaining a $10.5 million county subsidy to pay for furniture, fixtures and equipment.
The county’s Intergovernmental, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee is to review the recommendation before it can go May 17 to the Miami-Dade County Commission. The proposal then could be included in general budgetary reviews next month and in September.
Performing Arts Center President and CEO Michael Hardy met April 4 with Assistant County Manager Bill Johnson to discuss funding shortfalls, according to finance committee meeting minutes. Trust CFO Richard Walker and County Manager George Burgess later approved the financing in principal.
The agreement marked a turnaround in the county’s approach, trust chairman Parker Thomson said.
"A year ago, when the county commission approved the additional funds to complete the construction," Mr. Thomson said, "I read the county manager was asked to approve certain needs to restore items that had been omitted through the process of value engineering and to cover some furniture, fixtures and equipment expenditures that are necessary to a successful opening in a year’s time (6/4/06) and I asked for the approval of the operational needs for us to get from here to the opening."
"The manager declined to do that at that time," Mr. Thomson said, "saying that he wished the numbers scrubbed and so Michael Hardy and Richard Walker have been scrubbing those numbers with the county’s budget people and everybody is now satisfied."
Also at Tuesday’s meeting of the Performing Arts Center Trust, it was announced that County Commissioner Javier Souto had been appointed parking consultant effective May 16. Plans are still being worked out with the School Board to provide temporary parking spaces to coincide with the center’s opening. A shuttle between the site and the arts center figures in that proposal.
Arts center foundation chairman Woody Weiser said efforts continue to raise $25 million more for the project, of which $20 million may derive from naming rights. A potential $4.5 million individual donation, Mr. Weiser said, looked promising after talks.