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Tue, Oct. 15

Declining bed tax leads to cuts for 10 area arts groups

PRESCOTT - Arts groups will have to make do with less this year, in the wake of the Prescott City Council's budget-balancing move to cut the money going to the Prescott Area Arts and Humanities Council.

At its Tuesday voting session, council members cut the amount of bed tax going to the organization by more than half. While the city had planned to allocate $30,650 to the Arts and Humanities Council, the council cut the amount to $15,000.

And that equally will affect the 10 organizations slated to get a share of the money.

Elisabeth Ruffner of the Prescott Area Arts and Humanities Council (PAAHC) said Thursday that the organization plans to cut the individual allocations by the same proportion that the city used in its overall reduction.

"It will be on exactly the same formula," Ruffner said, explaining that PAAHC uses a scoring system to determine how much each of the organizations will get.

Because the city's reduction was approximately one-half, Ruffner said each of the organizations would get about half of the grant awards that PAAHC had planned.

The original allocations were: The Artists Path, $3,423; Chalk It Up Prescott, $2,738; Phippen Museum, $3,765; Bluegrass Festival, $3,613; PFFA Ghost Walk, $1,997; Prescott Strings, $2,814; Prescott Pops Symphony, $2,253; Smoki Museum, $3,119; Tsunami on the Square, $3,233; and Yavapai Symphony Guild, $3,195.

While Ruffner said the city grants are "only a token portion" of the money that the organizations use on their events, she emphasized the message that the city reduction sends to the groups.

"It's the principle of the city helping (the arts community)," Ruffner said. "The whole crux is that Prescott is trying to do it on the cheap, and it doesn't work that way."

The council heard similar comments during Tuesday's meeting. R Wall of the Mural Mice, for instance, maintained that cuts to the arts would be short-sighted - especially in light of the city's efforts to improve tourism promotion.

"I don't know what you expect people to come here for," Wall said. "Please help us to help the town."

Concerns also arose about the city's plans to cut its allocation to the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo similarly by about half - from $30,650 to $15,000.

"I think it's a travesty the amount of money we're awarding to these groups," former City Councilman Robert Luzius said, adding that it was "an insult to the rodeo" to cut its allocation to $15,000.

Councilwoman Lora Lopas also expressed concerns about the proposed reduction for the rodeo. "This is just a severe cut," she said. "I don't want to jeopardize our biggest season."

The city is making the cuts because revenue from the 3-percent bed tax, which hotels and motels collect, has fallen short of projections.

"The bed tax has not been collecting at the rate that we expected," Economic Development Director Jane Bristol told the council Tuesday.

Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said the cuts were necessary to bring the city's expenditures in line with its revenue.

"We have to balance the budget," he said. "We're fighting dollars at this moment."

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