Red Wing City Hall
Red Wing City Hall has its historic entrance via staircase but an accessible doorway on the east side leading into the council chambers. Republican Eagle file photo

During the last several City Council meetings there have been discussions surrounding a new percentage for the arts policy.

At the Dec. 12 meeting the City Council passed the ordinance to implement the new policy. There was a split vote of 5-2 to pass the policy. 

Mayor Mike Wilson brought up concerns about the policy and wanted to have more conversations about the policy.

The council held a special meeting on Dec. 19 after Wilson vetoed the ordinance. The council held the meeting to override the veto which passed with another 5-2 vote. 

Council members shared their thoughts on the ordinance and concerns about the policy and how it is funded during discussion of the issue. 

Council members also brought up suggestions for the Arts and Culture Commission to consider in any re-working of the policy.

“There are some things that I would like to see considered by the Arts and Culture Commission over the next year. … I still think the ordinance needs to move forward,” council member Evan Brown said. “One of the things that I think needs to be reconsidered is the private component. I also think that the public funded component should be considered as a lower proportion.”

Brown opened the discussion asking for other council members to share their suggestions so that they could find some consensus and move the ordinance forward. 

“I spent a lot of time going through other cities' ordinances and finding only one other city that had this percentage on private projects and that was Los Angeles, California,” council member Kim Beise said. “Most ordinances that I looked at had a designated percentage that was dedicated to the maintenance of the artwork.”

The council had supported the idea for a percentage of the fund to go toward maintenance of the artwork. 

Council member Laurel Stinson was not in favor of lowering the percentage below 1% as mentioned in the discussion by other council members. 

“I’m not in favor of going below 1% for the public portion. I think the most important fact that came from the Arts and Culture Commission was that for every dollar the city invests, we get $5 in return,” she said. 

“We get four extra dollars back that we can spend on economic development. We can use that to pay for bathrooms downtown and other economic development projects. If we go less than 1% then we don’t have money to work with and those are dollars we don’t have to raise taxes to get to reinvest in our community,” she continued. 

The discussion continued with council members wanting to move the ordinance forward to set a foundation and then making changes over the course of the next year when needed. 

Council members shared that they have heard from  the community supporting this ordinance. 

“Initially we received a lot of emails in support of this ordinance, I have only received one email that wasn’t in support of this,” council member Don Kliewer said. “But, I do think it would be good for there to be more information and education out there about this for the community before it is set in stone.”

The reason for the veto on the item from Mayor Wilson was to have more discussion on the item. He had some suggestions for changes in the ordinance.

“If we are going to come back and work on this why don’t we just wait and get it to a place where everyone is comfortable with it, this kicks in in 2024 so we have a little time, and I think a little more discussion on this would be helpful and fine tune it a little bit.”

As the ordinance passed with the 5-2 vote the Percentage for the Arts policy will move forward and will take full form in 2024. 

Over the course of the next year, the Arts and Culture Commission can take council recommendations and improve the policy over time. 

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