Mardi Gras Foundation Board Meeting
August 25, 2015
In attendance: Mack Bradley, Jay Dinkelmann and Lisa Otke
Via phone: Doug Dean and Tim Lorson (ex officio)
Mack called the meeting to order at 4:10pm
Mack appreciates everyone in attendance for what is typically the most important meeting of the year for the Foundation.
Mack stated again his frustration that the Mayor’s Ball does not make more net revenue. He credits Lindsay and the MGI team, whom MGF hires to produce the event, for working hard to manage expenses. The problem seems to be revenues. Mack asked that the board think about how we can raise more money from this event. MGF could make a much bigger positive effect on the neighborhood with a bigger block of funds for the grant program.
Mack said that 2015 Grant applications were received from the following:
1. Soulard School- $20,000 for new outdoor classroom, garden and improvements to the playground
2. SRG/SBA - $23,000 for security cameras around the Soulard neighborhood
3. Gene Slays Boys Club- $48,630 for an outdoor basketball court
Mack said the Downtown portion of the Mayor’s Ball money will be granted to Operation Brightside.
SBA/SRG has given the same proposal as last year however this year they have done their homework and give a very detailed application—far better than last year’s application. They also have letters of support from Chief Dotson, Alderman Coatar & Alderman Ortmann among others.
Gene Slay’s Boys Club also has a letter of support from Alderman Coatar.
Mack spoke to Alderman Coatar who said he thought the top priority at this time is the camera proposal from the SRG/SBA.
Lisa stated that other Alderman have also used capital funds to support cameras.
Mack said that board member Todd George has indicated he thinks top priority is cameras, but as he is not at the meeting our bylaws do not allow for proxy voting and in any case that vote may not be decisive.
Lisa said Soulard School’s application is not very defined. No real plan, not a lot of background detail and doesn’t really service the entire neighborhood.
Mack said that he thought the board may receive a request from SRG/SBA to reallocate money from a previous grant—the entryway signs—to the camera project.
Jay said that based on cash positions, use of the entryway money may be necessary to fully fund this request in any case.
The board discussed that at the time (2013 the board thought) the SRG entryway signs $10,000 proposal wasn’t fully baked but that year MGF simply didn’t have an alternate request and so reluctantly funded the request. MGF granted money for this but stipulated that they would hold the funds until SRG could demonstrate the project was further along and able to be completed. Thus MGF is still holding the 10,000.
Mack said that it’s his understanding that SRG has gotten money other sources for the sign program, even though SRG has never communicated that in any way to MGF.
Jay and Lisa confirmed that other sources had been secured.
Doug Dean said he sees it perfectly appropriate to fund the SRG/SBA request for this year with whatever funds are available. Mack, Jay and Lisa agreed with this.
Mack said he wanted to make a comment before any motion was offered on the 2015 grant. He expressed deep concern about a perceived sense of entitlement on the part of SRG/SBA. He is concerned that SRG and SBA seem to think that simply submitting a proposal guarantees them a check, an impression cemented during his visit to the SRG meeting last fall and in subsequent conversations around the neighborhood. This is not how it works or how it should work. There are lots of neighborhood organizations that are worthy of MGF support.
Mack said that some 80% of all MGF funds over the years have gone to SRG requests and in only year did SRG not receive the grant money that they applied for, 2014—and even that year they received the final $5,000 installment of a $25,000 commitment. The only year in the history of MGF that SRG received no funding at all was the year that they did not apply for anything. Moreover, he said he does not want another worthy organization to forgo a grant application because they think MGF gives SRG whatever they want.
Mack said that disturbing as this attitude is, neither that nor these statistics should influence the decision making for 2015—each year should be judged on its own merits.
Mack then said he would entertain a motion for the 2015 Soulard Community Grant.
In light of a possible request for a redirection of the prior neighborhood marker funds, Jay Dinkelman made a motion to apply 2015 grant funds toward the SRG/SBA request, with the understanding that we would only know the amount we could fund once a request to reallocate the prior $10,000 was received, or if it was received and once the board voted on such a request.
Mack called a roll call vote on the motion to fund, at some level, the SRG/SBA request.
Jay, aye – benefits everyone- school, boys club, whole neighborhood, all businesses and residents.
Lisa, aye - the fact that it benefits the entire neighborhood definitely makes a difference. She has been in discussion regarding cameras in the past 9 months and has really been behind it. The SRG has done plenty of research and feels strongly that they have done their homework. Seems that this proposal will benefit the neighborhood most.
Doug, aye - agrees with everyone and likes the idea of diligence for next year.
Mack, aye - in support of the SRG/SBA proposal this year because it it well crafted, has significant support and the ability to integrate with the real time crime center make it an even more valuable tool.
Mack confirmed that the vote is unanimous. Should an additional request arrive from SRG in the next week or so, a special board meeting will be called to consider such a request.
Once we have a final grant amount, Mack will write letters to all applicants to inform them of our decision.
Prior to the next regular board meeting, Jay and Mack will meet with the accountant to go over the books and the last audit.
The board the again discussed what steps can be taken to generate more grant money from the Ball and also for desperately needed roof repairs to the building. There was discussion that the board should develop a list of actionable things the board can do.
Lisa said she continues to get some questions about the relationship between MGI and MGF.
Mack and Tim both expressed frustration about this, since it has been explained many, many times to the MGI board, which includes reps from neighborhood organizations, and also because it simply isn’t very difficult to understand. MGF has two simple functions: to support MGI in the production of a safe and successful Mardi Gras season, and to provide community improvement grants through the Mayor’s Ball. MGF raises money from sponsors that cannot give money to MGI because they hold a liquor license—A-B for example. MGF, which is a 501c3, uses this funding on things that are both necessary to produce Mardi Gras and desirable for the neighborhood: trash collection, security, securing the parade route, public works in general.
In addition, both MGF and MGI submit to an annual, independent audit, which is available to anyone on request. Mack suggested that it would be ideal if all Soulard neighborhood and business groups followed the same standard and submitted to an annual independent audit.
Improvements to the MGF building—the roof is reaching a crisis point. We have to find funds to repair it or operations may be restricted, as parts of the building will be too subject to the elements. The bank will be reappraising the building shortly and we have four bids to repair the roof. They range from $120,000-$200,000.
The board then discussed reserves for MGF and MGI. Mack said MGI needs an operating reserve; MGF needs a capital reserve for issues related to the building. MGI tapped it’s operating reserve to complete the TI on the building. Building these reserves should be a priority long-term goal.
Meeting adjourned at 5:05pm
Minutes by Ashley Weber.
UPDATE: Special electronic board meeting, September 29-30, 2015
Since the August board meeting, Mack Bradley received a written request from SRG/SBA to consider redirecting $10,000 from the prior grant for neighborhood markers to the 2015 request to fund a neighborhood security camera program. Mack called an electronic board meeting to consider this request. Participating board members: Jay Dinkelman, Lisa Otke, Todd George, Doug Weible, Mack Bradley. Mack made two motions;
MGF will redirect funds from a previous $10,000 grant to SRG/SBA, and allocate those funds to the 2015 SRG/SBA grant request for security cameras.
Jay, Lisa, Todd, Johnny, Doug W., Mack
MGF will fully fund the 2015 SRG/SBA request for $23,000.
Jay, Lisa, Todd, Johnny, Doug W., Mack
Mack will write a letter to SRG/SBA notifying them of the award.