Council makes recommendations for general, HOT fund requests
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Thursday evening the Copperas Cove city council held a workshop meeting during which it heard from groups requesting from the city’s general fund and hotel occupancy tax fund.
This year with the additional $107,895 available in the proposed general fund budget, a little more than $55,000 has been dedicated to make a full-time position out of a part-time position in Development Services for a development liaison. $50,000 of the remaining amount was up for distribution to local groups.
However, general fund requests totaled $74,015 from the Boys & Girls Club, Cove House, Hill Country Community Action Association for Meals on Wheels, The HOP, the Noon Exchange Club, and Prepared 4 Life/Lemonade Day.
Some of the groups received more funds than they asked for, to include HCAA, which requested $2,500 for its program that delivers meals to the elderly five days per week. Councilman Matt Russell recommended the program receive $5,000.
Prepared 4 Life/Lemonade Day was another group to be given the nod for more funds than requested, being noted for $1,250 instead of $750.
The third group to receive above-and-beyond funding was the Exchange Club of Copperas Cove, with Russell recommending the club receive $4,000 from the city for the annual Feast of Sharing. Inez Faison, who gave the presentation for the club, said they are funding $3,600 for the annual dinner and requested the city match their $3,600. Last year the event served more than 630, feeding residents a $12-per-plate catered Thanksgiving style dinner. Faison said this year, the club plans to recognize the late Bud Owsley, one of the founders who started the event in 1997. She said the event is focused on less fortunate members in the community, but all are welcome to attend.
Councilman James Pierce Jr. echoed Russell’s idea to give additional funds toward the dinner, noting that he and had family had attended the dinner last year.
The Hill Country Transit District will receive its mandated $42,165 from the city, which is used to help fund the fixed route and paratransit route bus services.
Not all groups received the entire amount of requested funding.
The Boys & Girls Club requested $15,000, but received $12,000 for after school programs.
Cove House Emergency Homeless Shelter requested $10,000 in funding, but the council’s consensus was to give $7,100. This was the shelter’s first year requesting general funds from the city, with executive director Brian Hawkins noting 40 percent of the $10,000 would go toward food, 30 percent for utilities, 20 percent for the free clinic and 10 percent for client resources to include training, toiletry and other supplies.
Councilman Pierce said he would have like to see more transparency on what the shelter would spend the money.
Hawkins explained that the 40 percent of funding for food would help purchase meats for the shelter residents, and that the shelter doesn’t qualify for the bulk meat purchases at the food bank but instead has resorted to purchasing meat at grocery stores locally.
When Councilman Russell gave some recommended numbers for disbursements, one thing he also mentioned was transparency.
“We always have been harping for the last three years, we want to see receipts, and a lot of folks do a good job,” Russell said. “I know, Brian (Hawkins), you’ll get into it, being transparent on that.”
Although there was a general consensus for Cove House, Councilman David Morris still said he preferred to allocate the full $10,000 to the shelter.
After general fund requests came requests for hotel occupancy tax, or HOT, funds. Last year, the council made recommendations for the allocations without hearing the formal presentations from each group’s representative in addition to having the hard copies to view, but this year, the council heard from each entity.
Groups included the Copperas Cove Boys & Girls Club, Cove House, the Five Hills Art Guild, America’s Drug-Free Productions, the as well as the city’s Tourism Department.
The council approving the Boys & Girls Club for $7,500, which will be used for a Race For the Kids/Kid Day at the Gap in September 2018. The council approved giving the Five Hills Art Guild $9,000 for the Five Hills Art Festival in March 2018, now expanded to a two-day event, said art guild treasurer Linda Lapierre.
This time around, Cove House received an okay for $2,500 in HOT funds to be used toward advertising its annual Cove House Classic bicycling fundraiser.
The council approved $47,350 for America’s Drug-Free Productions, which hosts the Heart of Texas Bowl annually the first Saturday in December. They discussed, at length, with Jack Welch, ADFP’s president, the logistics of Copperas Cove hotels having enough hotel space and availability for out-of-towners coming in for the NCAA Division II and NJCAA football games and also the fact that the games will be televised on College Sports Live.
The City of Copperas Cove’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, under the Parks and Recreation Department requested $69,648 towards funding events to include a fall festival, tree lighting ceremony, Polar Bear Swim, food truck festival, farmers’ market, and a quarterly tourism guide. HOT funds will also be used for advertising with the $1,765. Total HOT funds requests from all entities came to $137,763.