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Lancaster City Council, which yanked nearly $200,000 in funding from the promotions and tourism group See Lancaster earlier this month, agreed Tuesday to give some funds back to the group.
Council agreed to allot $100,000 for the group, but the money won't be paid in one lump sum. The money will be given to the group on a receipt-reimbursement basis each month, said City Administrator Helen Sowell.
City Council cited "accounting irregularities" on June 5 when it decided to pull funding from See Lancaster. A news release issued by the city on June 6 said See Lancaster acknowledged the irregularities.
Frank Keel, executive director of the group, resigned his post that day. Board members praised the job Keel did and called his decision regrettable.
The money the city agreed to give See Lancaster on Tuesday will cover six months of operation and some event programming in 2008-09.
See Lancaster wants to maintain minimal operations so it can keep grants it's been awarded.
It also wants to maintain a presence in the community by sponsoring special events, like those to celebrate Christmas.
See Lancaster board member Jay Rainey noted the successes of the group as he sought city funds from council.
It's important to "celebrate successes in order to have the energy to correct our failures," Rainey said.
See Lancaster's 2007-08 budget fell nearly $37,000 short, and the city agreed to give the group nearly $28,000 to help make up the deficit. City officials also raised questions about apparent discrepancies in financial reports from the group.
In addition, the Palmetto Thunder Air Show at the local airport on May 17 and 18 operated at a $75,000 deficit. See Lancaster was one of the principal organizers of the show.
The county agreed to advance See Lancaster the money to pay for the short fall last money. The money is to be deducted in $15,000 increments from the total funds the county gives See Lancaster for five years.
"See Lancaster has had a number of things we can be proud of and, hopefully, we can correct things done wrong," Rainey said Tuesday.
The city's funding includes up to $66,000 for basic operations for six months. This includes continued funding for the salaries and benefits of two full-time employees, one part-time employee, office rent and supplies.
That breaks down to a possible $11,000 a month.
Rainey said See Lancaster may not need all of the $11,000 per month, as known expenses total slightly more than $10,000. Just the amount needed will be funded.
Another $34,000 is reserved for See Lancaster's event programming, including the Santa Express train ride, the Christmas parade in Lancaster and the design and manufacturing of the annual Christmas ornament sold by the group.
Funds for events will go through a review process before they're awarded.
"We'll create a budget for each of those events and submit it to administration (city) to go through the budget process," Rainey said.
The city is now coordinating an independent audit of See Lancaster. City officials hope it will be completed by fall.
Contact reporter Johnathan Ryan at email@example.com or at (803) 416-8416