In reporting on the Downtown Frankfort Inc. presentation at the Aug. 27 meeting of Franklin County Fiscal Court (DFI drops FrankFest, returns check to county, Aug. 28), it is important to understand the context of the issue.
DFI was awarded $20,000 in additional funding for the 2018-19 budget year. Our budget request for this funding was based on the need to increase staffing for DFI. That was the basis for the $20,000 appropriation. Within that request, DFI agreed to create and implement an event in the county. This ultimately became the inaugural FrankFest held over Memorial Day weekend.
What is at issue is an administrative fee DFI applied to the event and supporting documentation on the 395 staff hours utilized to conduct the event. The fact that the $20,000 that funded the event was originally intended to assist DFI in operating costs related to general personnel has been lost in interpretation.
We are always open to questions. In attempting to explain our position, we met one-on-one with 1st District Magistrate Sherry Sebastian. This meeting was followed by an email to other magistrates addressing concerns that had been raised. The end result was that several current fiscal court members were discussing a claw back of the 2018-19 funding because we allocated a portion of the $31,400 event budget to an administrative fee, and to personnel costs associated with the event — the basis of the original appropriation.
Consideration of a claw back of funding appropriated to a nonprofit agency sets a new precedent.
The discussion of a claw back seems harsh given the current momentum of downtown. There are new businesses — The Elizabeth (Fork Knife Spoon Catering), The Foundry, Sig Lusher, Goodwood, Mortimer Bibb’s, Hoggy’s and others. There are buildings under development and more buildings that have already been filled. More positive change is coming. We manage the popular Summer Concert Series, Candlelight and Bourbonanza. DFI is working on the revitalization of downtown where property taxes (city and county) and tourism dollars grow.
DFI and Franklin County have always had an excellent working partnership. DFI chose to return the 2020 FrankFest appropriation because we have important work ahead of us with the implementation of the Downtown Master Plan. FrankFest 2019 was a fun event. The county can build upon the ground work put into place during the inaugural event for FrankFest 2020.
Terri Bennett is president of Downtown Frankfort Inc. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.