Commissioners take an artisitic vote

"After months of debate and amendments, the Kitsap County Commissioners approved a public arts ordinance by a 2-1 vote Monday, Aug. 20.Commissioner Jan Angel cast the dissenting vote, saying she couldn't approve spending taxpayer money on cultural amenities.I will not obligate the people with another mandated, regulatory ordinance, said Angel, who represents South Kitsap. What we are looking at today is another mandate to the citizens using their tax dollars.The ordinance requires 1 percent of the cost of capital improvement projects to be allocated for public works of art. The publicly funded art will be incorporated into new or remodeled buildings.Angel cited a 1999 National Association of Counties survey that found that 67 percent of counties didn't have public arts funding mechanisms. Of the counties responding to the survey that had arts councils, most were privately run, nonprofit organizations.After the vote, Central Kitsap resident and activist Bob Dietz congratulated the commissioners for their study of the ordinance.You have been open to discussion, Dietz told the commissioners during the public comment period of their weekly meeting. And the measure has been modified to a great degree.County staff members excluded use of impact fees for the arts and deleted streets and utilities from the list of capital improvement projects to contain art. County officials estimate the program will cost an average of $37,000 a year, down from the $130,000 predicted before the ordinance was amended. The definition of arts also was broadened to include architectural amenities and other creative uses, not just paintings or sculptures.The arts ordinance has spawned a lot of conversation, Commissioner Tim Botkin said before voting for the ordinance. And of the people I have heard from, they are pretty close to split in terms of being for or against the measure.Botkin said opponents had two valid concerns, which were addressed in the amended ordinance.Even before Monday's vote, Botkin said, there was no prohibition against publicly funded art.Under current law the commissioners have complete discretion to use whatever funding they want, he said.The amended ordinance restricted that discretion by excluding certain funds from artistic purposes and clarifying which projects don't qualify, he said. The ordinance also creates a nine-member public arts board. Botkin said the board will accurately represent what taxpayers would deem appropriate.The board would be tasked with establishing criteria for selection of artworks and make recommendations to the commissioners about artists or pieces. The board also could pursue private donations or funds to advance the program. "

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