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Arts ordinance gets another hearing

"All the hubbub surrounding Kitsap County's proposed arts ordinance could crash to a halt by July 23, when county commissioners expect to hold another public hearing on the community-rending measure.After considering further public comment during the meeting, the commissioners could decide one way or another on the proposed ordinance, or stay a decision until further notice.While many residents question the wisdom of the county subsidizing the arts, others applaud the measure's intent, saying the plan could beautify county architecture, boost the art industry on the peninsula, attract tourists and improve the quality of life in Kitsap.Called the 1 percent for arts ordinance, the measure under consideration by the commissioners would include funding for public works of art in Kitsap County Capital Improvement Program (CIP) projects. Exactly 1 percent of the total cost of each capital improvement project pursued by the county would, when appropriate, be earmarked to fund art. In turn, that art could be blended into the new or remodeled county structure. Potential CIP projects, according to the ordinance, include the construction or remodeling of any building, structure, park utility, street, sidewalk or parking facility in Kitsap County.County Administrator Malcolm Fleming cautioned the ordinance doesn't require the county to incorporate art into specific capital projects because, in some cases, doing so wouldn't be appropriate.Take for instance, the Kitsap County Jail expansion project, which is currently under construction. Although the county has already funded the construction project and it won't be affected by this proposed ordinance, the expansion provides a good example of how that standard could work, said Fleming.Bernalillo County, N.M., approved a similar arts ordinance, later funding a jail expansion and other facilities. County officials there used arts funding from the jail project to install artwork elsewhere.These specific issues would be the responsibility of a nine-member arts board, under the proposed ordinance. Appointed by the Kitsap County commissioners, these volunteer members would be tasked with establishing criteria for the selection of artwork and make recommendations to the commissioners about certain artists or artistic pieces. All the while, the board could pursue private donations or funds to advance and leverage the arts program in the county.Based on the average amount spent on capital improvement projects over the last four years in Kitsap County, officials could expect to allocate about $130,000 annually of public money to the art fund to fulfill the intent of the proposed ordinance. Kitsap County Commissioner Tim Botkin asked earlier in June whether that estimate is accurate and, according to staff members working closely with the county budget, it hits close to home.County officials plan to rework the language in the ordinance to address specific concenrs raised by community critics. Some say revenues generated through county impact fees should not, under any circumstances, be used to fund the proposed arts program.An amended ordinance that excludes impact fees as a funding source, along with the current version, will be presented at the July meeting for consideration. Fleming pointed out that language already exists in the current proposal that allows the county to exclude a particular source of funding for the projects, but admitted the language doesn't explicitly exempt impact fees, however.After staying a decision on the ordinance during a June 11 meeting, the county commissioners originally talked about revisiting the measure on July 16. Commissioners Jan Angel and Tim Botkin, however, are planning to attend a conference for the National Association of Counties that day in Washington, D.C., so the discussion was bumped up to July 23. "

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