Imagine you find a pot of gold, and you decide to use its value to enhance your community with cultural amenities. Then you decide to help others in need in the form of social services. Here’s the really cool part, at the end of the year, another pot of gold, this time larger, surfaces and you can do it all over again, with more money for more people, more groups, and more social amenities. Here’s the best part, it keeps happening year after year.
However here is where it begins to get trickier and trickier each year, because now you have more people and groups wanting more and more, and you want more and more gold to satisfy more and more people. Now you’re in a circle of ‘more and more’, and more people are needed to decide who to give what to, and more and more people get involved in making decisions to make more people happy, but also more people become unhappy because they are left out with nothing or little.
That is the situation that the Naperville city council finds itself in with SECA (Special Events and Cultural Amenities) funds and grants. The fund was established in 2004 as “a separate fund used solely for social and artistic events and entities providing cultural experiences for the Naperville community and visitors”. The fund is paid for by the city’s food and beverage tax which grows more and more.
This year city officials will spend about $2 million towards approximately 90 different cultural events throughout Naperville, including about $170,000 for Ribfest spear-headed by the Exchange Club of Naperville, and about $160,000 towards the Last Fling coordinated by Naperville Jaycees for a total of approximately 17% of SECA funds. The smallest requested grant is $863 by Naperville’s Heritage Society for the All Hallows’s Eve event at the Naperville Settlement.
Naperville’s Advisory Cultural Commission, consisting of nine members, reviews each groups application for SECA funds and then makes recommendations to the Naperville city council for a final decision and vote.
As the pot of gold increases each year, so does the debate by council members on who gets what. It’s sort of a mini-version of pushing and shoving on a local level, compared to Presidential candidates elbowing for delegates on the national level.
Naperville council members John Krummen and Kevin Coyne favor giving more money for fewer and larger events with possible long-term agreements, thereby short-changing or eliminating groups with smaller events.
Another example of the little guy, with a good cause, getting pushed and shoved out the door.