City tables decision on Sealy Community Foundation funds
By April Towery
Representatives from the Sealy Community Foundation appeared before the city council Tuesday to answer questions about their latest financial report.
Nothing was accomplished, the item was tabled, and the three SCF volunteers left unhappy.
“I was notified this morning that our packet, after Fantasy of Lights, was incomplete,” said SCF board member Angela Schmidt. “Somebody submitted it on my behalf and I assumed everything was done. I don’t understand why, when it was submitted at the first part of February, I was notified March 25 that it was incomplete.”
As soon as she was notified by the city manager and city secretary, Schmidt said she revised the report and council should have everything they requested. She reiterated after the meeting that she is not upset with the city manager or city secretary. It was implied, however, that some council members are concerned about the nonprofit group’s financials and how their money is collected and spent.
The organization receives funding from the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax fund for its Sealybration and Fantasy of Lights events each year.
“I know there is a question about the detailed profit and loss but I am following guidance from the [Hotel Occupancy Tax] attorneys,” Schmidt said. “Whenever this paperwork was revamped … the only thing I had to turn in was the HOT tax expenditures.”
The paperwork turned in this year modeled what was submitted last year, she explained.
Sealybration produces a $1.8 million impact for the community and organizers would rather their HOT funds go toward next year’s event instead of returning $7,000 to the HOT account.
“It seems like a no-brainer to me,” Schmidt said. “May I remind you, we are volunteers. We don’t get paid for this. We get paid out of the goodness of our hearts, out of the goodness to our community. I don’t have to be standing here today. I can be with my daughter, taking her to dance. I feel like we’re being attacked.”
There are seven board members with 21 kids who serve Sealy Community Foundation and they would like more notice when they’re placed on a council agenda, Schmidt explained. Some issues could be handled with a phone call or an email, she added.
Melanie Willingham, president of Sealy Community Foundation, asked that council allow the excess funds to be moved over for use at the next Sealybration event, scheduled in July.
“It’s not like we’re profiting,” Willingham said, adding that she was taking time away from being with her sons at a Little League game while Councilman John Hinze was attending at that very time.
“They’re watching the game that we should be at,” Willingham said. “We’re not pocketing [the money]. We are fiscally responsible. We’re just asking you to let us do this for your town.”
Mayor Janice Whitehead countered, “It’s our town.”
Whitehead explained there is a discrepancy in the paperwork over whether funds must be returned or can be carried over to the next fiscal year. The council agreed to table the item until they could research the matter.