Commissioners delay vote on arts ordinance

"Bombarded by public comments from a standing-room only crowd, the Kitsap County Commissioners Monday postponed a vote on a proposed arts ordinance until next month.After 90 minutes of testimony, Commissioner Tim Botkin said the board should take some more time to digest all of these comments. The commissioners delayed voting on the controversial arts ordinance until Monday, Aug. 13.First introduced in early June, the 1 percent for arts ordinance would earmark 1 percent of the total cost of capital improvement projects (CIP) in Kitsap County to fund public works of art. The art would be part of projects like buildings, structures, parks, sidewalks or parking facilities. The commissioners had planned to vote on the ordinance Monday, but the sheer volume of public comment forced delay. The commissioner chambers at the county courthouse, usually half-empty for the weekly board meetings, were packed.Port Orchard resident Merton Cooper was among the first to urge the commissioners not to fund art with public money.What you call art is different from what I call art, he said. It's not good to use public money for this and I would encourage private programs instead.Carrie Riplinger of Seabeck said art is none of the government's business.Several others agreed.I am here to save you from yourselves, Poulsbo resident Joan Gorner told the commissioners. One man's meat is another man's poison.Proponents of the arts ordinance applauded its intent and said the plan could beautify county architecture, boost the arts industry, attract tourists, inspire debate and improve the quality of life in Kitsap.Bremerton gallery owner Amy Burnett said the ordinance could encourage economic growth. If we're going to attract the best and the brightest, we have to provide a cultural atmosphere, Burnett said, adding that professionals and prospective employers look for such amenities when deciding where to relocate. The 1 percent for arts is a positive factor that will keep on going.John Lyle, a Bremerton resident and retired Seattle library administrator, said a public art program could work as well in Kitsap County as similar ordinances have in King and Pierce counties. Although opponents argued that works funded by the 1 percent for the arts ordinance might be offensive, Lyle said only a minute percentage of art is objectionable. "

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