A smaller, leaner Turlock City Arts Commission will live on, in spite of a city staff suggestion that the Turlock City Council eliminate the longstanding commission on Tuesday.
“I think disbanding would be a terrible thing,” said Councilmember Amy Bublak. “I was a part of it. I don’t want to see it gone.”
The previously 25-member commission will be trimmed to just seven members, with two alternates. The smaller size should help the commission to become more effective, said council members.
Staff initially suggested the commission be eliminated due to the TCAC’s recent inability to conduct meetings. In the past 14 months, the TCAC met quorum to hold a meeting just six times, hampering the commission’s ability to enact any of its programs.
With a seven member commission, just four members will be needed for quorum – slots that can also be filled by either of two alternates.
A handful of new commissioners could breathe some new life into the commission, council members said, helping to overcome the challenges it faces. Since the formation of the Carnegie Arts Center, the elimination of a dedicated city staff member, and removal of all funding, the TCAC has had trouble achieving its mission of fostering art in the community.
“There’s a lot of history, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that since we lost our city arts facilitator and we don’t have any money coming in for Arts Commission things – anything at all, we have to raise every penny for everything we do,” said Arts Commission Chair Candice Klaschus. “Then the Carnegie was separated from us, and now you essentially have two entities competing for the same pot of money.
“… We’re not fundraisers. We don’t have the time to do all of that, plus all of the other things.”
Klaschus, a member of council, and city staff are expected to meet to discuss the future of the commission in the coming weeks. And a handful of new applications for the commission have already been received, including one from a former Arts Commission chair.
But if the commission doesn’t get back on the right track, it could be on the chopping block again.
“I’ll be the first one, in three or four months if we don’t get the numbers, to say goodbye,” said Councilmember Forrest White.
Council discusses possible layoffs
While budget season started slowly, the topic of layoffs arose during a Tuesday budget workshop.
One housing finance specialist, one rehousing specialist, and a part-time clerical worker could be on the chopping block from the Housing Program Services department, following a sharp decline in state and federal housing funding.
“We’ll continue with the goal of not having to have layoffs,” City Manager Roy Wasden said. “We’ll work with staff to preserve jobs as jobs change.”
Where the Housing Department had a $1 million budget just a few years ago, it now stands at roughly half that level. That cutback is worsened by the elimination of redevelopment statewide, cutting more yet from housing’s budget.
But if Turlock cuts the three employees, it could lose out on a recently awarded $1 million CalHOME grant. That grant may not be used to fund the employees’ positions, but without the employees Turlock would lack the staffing to make use of the grant.
Redevelopment’s departure has further impacts which remain to be addressed: Turlock’s Redevelopment Agency contributed about $1 million to the City of Turlock General Fund Budget.
Council is expected to further discuss the general fund budget at their May 8 meeting, adopting a final budget on May 22.
For more information on the Turlock budget, check back with the Journal in the coming days.