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Council members criticize Zach Theatre contract

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

During a work session on Tuesday, City Council Member Ora Houston expressed frustration with a resolution that Council will consider Thursday. In addition to awarding up to $6.4 million in cultural arts services contracts in Fiscal Year 2015-16, the resolution would award the Zachary Scott Theatre Center $60,000 for maintenance under a separate operations agreement. According to Economic Development Department Assistant Director Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, the theatre will receive $200,000 in cultural arts services contracts in the coming fiscal year – as it did in the current one – and has a 99-year contract with the city signed in 1987 that entitles it to receive the $60,000 for maintenance every year and pay the city $1 per year to lease the land it uses. “It seems illogical to me where this would be OK for us to pay $60,000 for 99 years and get a dollar back from the operation, when we can have other kinds of public-private partnerships where the city would get more revenue if they entered into that,” Houston said. “This is a glaring example of the things that I’m concerned about, is how we fund the things that we fund that I call legacy funding.” Council Member Pio Renteria said he was concerned about the funding in light of his recent attempts to secure funding for landscaping at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, which he says is desperately in need of care.

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