Largo Commission Denies Public Art Ordinance
By Bill Lopez
LARGO -The City of Largo Commission denied an ordinance in their commission meeting Tuesday that would have provided funding for art in public places.
The ordinance sought to foster development of paintings, sculptures, statues, engravings, carvings and art in many other media to be permanently displayed in the city financed by fees on building projects.
In a 6-to-1 vote rejecting the ordinance, commissioners sited reservations about mandatory fees on building projects that could discourage development in the city.
Three people addressed the commission with similar reservations including Tom Morrissette, the president of the Largo Chamber of Commerce. He said the ordinance would add a major financial burden to developers and suggested the city look into a voluntary program with incentives to generate art funding instead of the mandatory fees.
The matter was considered by the commission in July and several modifications were put into the ordinance by the staff after extensive review by the Recreation, Parks and Arts Advisory Board, Community Development Advisory Board and the Planning Board.
None of the commissioners were completely comfortable with the ordinance as written citing the discouraging impact of fees on building projects as well as the potential difficulty of formulating an effective overseeing board as specified in the ordinance. It was pointed out that currently only two building projects would qualify for the program in the city.
Speaking against the project Commissioner Rodney Woods suggested that the city has many other far more practical needs that could be addressed with funding such as sidewalk repair.
Upon examination of program, it was pointed out that other communities with art funding programs do not levee fees on private developers but limit funding to those projects are funded with public money.
The ordinance included a funding mechanism that would levee a fee on eligible city capital improvement projects of $500,000 or more in construction cost. The contribution should be no greater than 1% of the total construction costs, before the addition of the public art costs not to exceed $200,000 per project.
It would have also assessed a public art contribution not to exceed 1% of the total construction cost (and not to exceed $200,000) on private construction or renovation projects related to commercial, office, hotel, industrial, mixed use developments and medical facilities, any of which equal or exceed an Aggregate Project Value of $2,000,000.
In lieu of an onsite project, the ordinance provided for a developer to contribute 0.5% of the Aggregate Project Value (not to exceed $200,000) to the Public Art Fund. This is a change from the previous draft ordinance reducing the in-lieu-of fee from .75% to .50%.
To administer the art programs funded with public money, a seven member Public Art Board would have been appointed to develop detailed guidelines and operating procedures to be approved by the City Commission.
While rejecting the ordinance, the commission did not specify that staff revamp the program or provide any specific direction for future consideration of the matter.
Contact Bill Lopez at email@example.com.
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