Editor, The Beacon:
Often when newcomers are asked why they came to Volusia County, they comment that the quality of life here was their main reason to settle among us. “Quality of life” includes cultural elements as well as trees and beaches.
Public funding is a way of recognizing that the public has diverse cultural needs. Public funding spreads resources around efficiently and equitably among a range of cultural efforts.
The County Council is reported to be on the verge of cutting or eliminating its support for organized cultural activities.
I recommend that, instead, support levels should be increased. I say that because costs and needs for cultural services have significantly increased as Volusia’s population has grown.
For example: You may not appreciate drama (I don’t), but a lot of people like plays. Using public money for theater serves a lot of people.
I happen to like old ways, and I think the people should at least be exposed to how things once were. Using public money to contribute to keeping an old facility available for public access helps to maintain predictable support for the old facility and the people who talk about old ways.
If economic development is important to the County Council, there is also the factor of attracting visitors to cultural activities. Good art shows draw thousands of people. Historic sites attract busloads of visitors. Musical performances generate audiences from afar.
Regular, reliable public funding support nurtures all of these seemingly independent cultural efforts. Each of these efforts brings money to the county. In turn, each cultural provider spends money locally in support of the community.
County Council support for cultural activities should be increased to demonstrate that the council values the economic returns from culture as well as the intangible worth of many different flavors of cultural expression.
Joan D. Carter
I would like to first start off by saying, I am less concerned with the welfare and desires of the newcomers and more concerned with the young hard working struggling individuals and families who are just starting out here. The County already spends taxpayer funds on cultural programs through the ECHO grant program and there are a multitude of programs that operate without funds from the Cultural Grant program that is in question. Unlike ECHO and Forever, the Cultural Grant program was NOT approved by the voters. Our young people are being priced out of having a home here because of high taxes. A young couple wanting to build a home here need to come up with over $9,200 in impact fees before they even start and I know one young hard working couple that has been forced to pay over $460 a month toward their property taxes and young renters tend to have it worse because there are no property tax breaks on rental property and they pay the full tax through their rent. On the other hand you have some paying $0 property taxes, many paying under $500, and a lot paying under $2000 while our struggling young people are getting hit the hardest with many paying over $5000 a year. I should add, I know this for a fact, there are many who are in that $2000 and under bracket who are just fine with adding additional burdens on others for giveaways they want. Also think about this, there is a affordable housing issue here in Volusia County and the solution many have come up with to fix the problem is to take even more from struggling young people who are working two and three jobs so they can afford to keep a roof over their heads and give the money that has been taken to another person to help them with their housing needs. Yes, burden one person more in order to help another. In most cases the money taken is given to large corporations as rent subsidies and if you know anything about tax funded rent subsidies you know they tend to push the price of rent up even higher. Simply look at what happened with the cost of higher education when the government flooded it with subsidies. So whatever spin anyone puts on the issue at hand, I am not buying it. It is not the government’s place to take our money from us by force in order to give it to the cause of another’s choosing. Government should NOT be making our charitable giving decisions for us for any reason. My focus is on the young people who are from here and their ability to stay here and them not being pushed out by higher taxes. And let’s face it, we have MANY needs here. We have a crumbling infrastructure, crumbling over packed roads, litter all over, water quality issues, and much more. It is time to cut off all of the tax funded giveaways and get back to the real business of government. It is very disturbing to me how so many who have greatly reduced property taxes are willing to create additional property tax burdens on those who are already struggling. What young people who are starting out here need is fair wages, lower taxes, and our government leaders to ensure the government is doing its core responsibilities well. Please stop trying to force our County government to take from the rest of us by force in order to give our money to the charities of your choosing. Let people make their own charitable giving decisions on their own based on their ability and desire to do so.
Hi Joan, I’m a reporter with FOX 35 News and I’d love to talk to you about this. If you have any free time to discuss this Tuesday, would you please email me at Marie.Edinger@fox.com ?