LETTER: Amend SB-016

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The SCFD reauthorization bill SB-016 falls short of good government ideals. 

Accountability: SB-016 assesses tax through 2030, funding Tier I (Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Art Museum, Botanic Gardens, Museum of Nature/Science, and Zoo) automatically without oversight or policy objectives. These organizations will receive more than $500 million regardless of need or performance.

Inclusivity: Arts funding tends to overlook the poor, disabled, people of color and youth. When those communities are engaged, expressing their cultural and artistic voices, their experience bridges divides and builds healthy communities. Tier III organizations have a good track record performing these functions, and SB-016 fails to support them.

Growth and Equity: Regional growth has been dramatic the past 25 years, yet SCFD’s process failed to evaluate growth projections and future needs. This oversight is seen in the attendance shift since 1990:  Tier I attendance grew by 65 percent, and Tier III by 736 percent. Tier I and their advocates crafted the funding formula under the direction of the chair of the Tier I lobbying entity. The mandate was for incremental change with Tier I funds to exceed inflation and those powerful organizations benefiting disproportionately.

For good government, SB-016 should boost Tier III funding because:

• Tier III serves 33 percent of the people, yet will receive only 15.4 percent of funds. 

• Tier IIIs are efficient, spending subsidies of $1.42 per attendee compared to $5.56 in Tier I.

• Tier IIIs provide over 50 percent of free admissions and 36 percent of school programming.

• SCFD grants to Tier III average 13 percent of their overall budgets; to Tier I, 20 percent.

• SB-016 increases Tier III entrance requirements from three to five years as a non-profit, making it harder for new organizations to qualify.

SB-016 is Denver-centric: Denver contributes 29 percent of the tax and receives 82.2 percent of the funds. Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas and Jefferson Counties contribute 71 percent of the tax dollars and receive 17 percent. Those six counties average a 23-percent return on their investment, while Denver reaps 290 percent.  These dollars generate economic and quality of life values. Taxpayers deserve an equitable distribution.

Solutions: Increase equity and accountability, create measures of success, shorten the authorization period, and provide transparent, capable oversight. We ask the legislature to make SCFD a model for good government.

Author: Susan Honstein, Retired HR professional, community volunteer

Signatures are from citizens/taxpayers across the entire district, no individual is representing any particular group:

Adrianna Abarca, Lakewood

Dr. Douglas Aldrich, Thornton

Charlotte Adams, Denver

Jenny and Scott Authier, Strasburg

Wira Babiak, Erie

Shannon Brown, Highlands Ranch

Juli Burroughs, Lone Tree

Rachel Cain, Denver

Steven Cantu ABD, Parker

Andrew Clune, Centennial

Evie Cohen, Lafayette

Molly Davis, Boulder

Nancy Dunkin, Evergreen

Renee Fajardo, Arvada

Debra Gallegos, Lakewood

Katy Gevargis, Aurora

Susan Honstein, Louisville

Maryan Jaross, Louisville

Allison Janda, Westminster

Alexandria Jimenez, Denver

Troy Johnson, Littleton

Gloria Leyba, Denver

Alonso Leyva, Northglenn

Martin and Bertila Leyva, Sheridan

Garner Mabry, Greenwood Village

Joanna Mandell, Boulder

Kathy Martinez, Greenwood Village

Barbara McGehan, Longmont

Allison Derbenwick Miller, Castle Pines

Luz E. Molina, Commerce City

Robert Nunez, Aurora

Jesse Ogas, Lakewood

Lydia Pottoff, Longmont

Jane Potts, Denver

Chelsea Romaniello, Denver

Janet Sacks, Englewood

Heather Schenk, Westminster

Todd M. Schwartz, Parker

William Starn, Denver

Elisabeth & John Shippey, Denver

Dorothy G Sweeney, Centennial

Stella Yu, Denver

EDITOR’S NOTE: The print edition of this letter, published Jan. 28, incorrectly listed Jena Dickey as the author of this letter. The correct list of signers is listed above.