A cut up Soldotna Metropolis Council upheld Wednesday a mayoral veto of the usage of federal COVID reduction funds to assist Triumvirate Theatre placed on a manufacturing this summer time.
Council members voted 4-2 in the course of the physique’s March 23 to supply as much as $25,000 of town’s roughly $1.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to assist Triumvirate Theatre placed on a free group manufacturing of “Tarzan” in Soldotna Creek Park.
Council members who initially supported the funds mentioned the manufacturing would convey the group collectively and was according to town’s use of federal CARES funds to help Triumvirate’s 2021 manufacturing of “The Little Mermaid.” Those that opposed the funds mentioned it might set a precedent for extra teams coming ahead and asking for cash and that it was a monetary threat for town.
The day after the council’s March 23 assembly, Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney, who had beforehand voiced his opposition to the monetary help, vetoed the decision. In a letter accompanying the veto, which the Clarion obtained by way of data request, Whitney cited the method by means of which the funds have been accepted as the explanation for the veto.
“I cannot support the action taken last night on this Resolution, not because the event is not a worthy project, but because of the process in which the funding is being appropriated,” Whitney wrote.
Attendees at Wednesday’s assembly, nonetheless, mentioned Triumvirate adopted the correct course of for requesting funds.
Council member Justin Ruffridge, who sponsored the preliminary decision requesting monetary backing, moved Wednesday to override Whitney’s veto. Per Performing Soldotna Metropolis Clerk Brekke Hewitt, mayoral vetoes might be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the council inside 21 days after the veto is exercised, or on the subsequent common assembly, whichever is later.
In explaining his name for an override of the veto, Ruffridge on Wednesday mentioned the veto unintentionally fuels damaging perceptions and damages the popularity of Triumvirate Theatre. Moreover, Ruffridge identified the council in the identical assembly accepted the usage of ARPA funds for different functions and mentioned the manufacturing possible won’t occur with out town’s help.
“Frankly, I find (it) incredible that we would not override this veto,” Ruffridge mentioned.
Triumvirate Govt Director Joe Rizzo informed council members Wednesday that although the veto cited the method by which the funding was accepted, Triumvirate adopted the method in place: A council member sponsored the request, the council voted on the request and, on this case, the request was accepted.
“It’s very hard for me, as the executive director, to write those grants and persuade these folks to support this partnership with the council, or with the city of Soldotna when it’s in the headlines that it’s been vetoed,” Rizzo mentioned. “If, tonight, it’s sustained, that basically tells the people I’m asking for funds from to support this event for the City of Soldotna … (that) the city is not truly in support of it, even though four people voted for it.”
Tyson Cox, who additionally represents Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Meeting and whose daughter participates in Triumvirate packages, was one in every of a number of individuals who testified in help of the efficiency Wednesday.
“Unless there was a process in place already for that, I think that what we’re going to end up doing is we’re penalizing this group for trying to accomplish that,” Cox mentioned. “But we’re really who we’re penalizing is we’re penalizing our community.”
Council member Jordan Chilson mentioned he feels “completely” that the method was adopted, as a result of any council member can convey a proposal ahead to applicable cash for one thing locally.
“We are in a position thankfully, where we have a lot of unallocated ARPA funds that are intended strictly for this purpose of helping our community rebuild and come back together as a community,” Chilson mentioned. “This event is a great example of something that does just that.”
The council voted 3-2 to override Whitney’s veto. Council member Dave Carey, who voted in help of the decision in the course of the council’s March 23 assembly, had an excused absence from Wednesday’s assembly. As a result of three of 5 votes doesn’t come out to two-thirds, the veto was sustained. Council members Ruffridge, Chilson and Vice Mayor Lisa Parker voted in help of overriding the veto whereas council members Dan Nelson and Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings voted in opposition to overriding the veto.
Nelson echoed feedback he made on the council’s March 23 assembly, similar to his issues concerning the monetary threat town would tackle by agreeing to again the manufacturing up with $25,000. Farnsworth-Hutchings mentioned she would have preferred to amend the amount of cash to be much less, however that she additionally has “a lot of concerns” with the unique decision.
Whitney reiterated Wednesday that his veto was not meant to point an absence of help for Triumvirate’s manufacturing, however that he thinks town ought to have supplied grant packages for ARPA funds, because it did with CARES funds.
“The process I would like to see is the same way we’ve done it for the CARES Act money,” Whitney mentioned. “You apply, it’s evaluated and everyone … has the opportunity to put in an application for those funds.”
Ruffridge, like a number of group members, took time on the finish of Wednesday’s assembly to voice his disappointment that Whitney’s veto was not overturned.
“Performance has a way of bringing people together and giving somebody a little bit of hope,” Ruffridge mentioned. “Just a little bit. I think our barrier to being able to help that process was incredibly low and then we chose not to and for that I am discouraged.”
Wednesday’s Soldotna Metropolis Council assembly might be streamed on town’s web site at soldotna.org.
Attain reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.