The Cerritos City Council directed staff last Tuesday to add a one-time $50,000 allocation towards maintaining the city’s 37 public art pieces in the city’s proposed budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
Near the end of the three-hour special budget meeting, Mayor Carol Chen made the proposal, citing that the individual pieces acquired by the city over the years have grown in value and needed more maintenance.
“We have so many beautiful pieces that are now of age that we need to look at [and maintain],” she said. “I think it’s time for us to consider that and to protect our assets as many of them are due for maintenance and care.”
Chen said in the future, she wanted the city to add 10 percent of “each infusion of funds” to subsequent budgets towards keeping the maintenance fund.
Council Member Bruce Barrows concurred with Mayor Chen's statements and seconded the proposal.
“The thing that bothers me is that inside the contracts with the artists is they require us to maintain the equipment made with the art pieces and we haven’t done that,” he said. “A very simple waxing they recommend would prevent the deterioration that we’ve seen on the ‘Dolphins’ [sculpture in front of City Hall].”
Barrows added that it wouldn’t need to take $50,000 to maintain all the public art pieces the city owns, but stressed that it is necessary for the city to protect its investments. He said that the money would come from the Public Art Trust Fund anyway.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Edwards sided with Mayor Chen and Council Member Barrows, but councilmembers Joseph Cho and Mark Pulido dissented.
City spokesperson Annie Hylton told Patch the $50,000 line item to the budget will come from the Art in Public Places Fund, which is expected to have a balance of $586,540 in FY 2011-2012.
Developers devote one percent of the building permit’s valuation on new residential and commercial developments over $250,000 but not exceeding $450,000 to the fund. She said that maintenance could include cleaning and polishing sculptures and fixing structures that light the art pieces.
After the meeting, Council Member Mark Pulido told Patch that allocating $50,000 in the budget towards a public art maintenance fund was not necessary when the city is facing economic hardship.
"If all the time they're complaining that the sky is falling, then why at this time are we voting to polish our trophies?” he said, referring to the public art pieces that would benefit from this program.
“City staff didn’t think it was necessary to add this item into the budget," Pulido said. "Of all the thousands of conversations I had with voters during the campaign, not once did anyone say to spend $50,000 on cleaning our sculptures and fountains. In fact, many said enough already.”
Pulido later added, "I support reinvesting in our neighborhoods, infrastructure and direct programs and services for our residents. Real people should come first, not polishing sculptures at this time."
Final approval of the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget will take place at the next meeting on Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m.