With the county spending over $60,000 in sponsorships during the 2018 fiscal year, the new policy is meant to govern how funds are disbursed.
The Volusia County Council has adopted a policy on sponsorships, loosely capping funding at $40,000 annually for the entire county.
The new policy also limits sponsorships to $1,500 per event — applicants must be nonprofit 501c3 or 501c4 organizations registered with the state — as well as requires requests to be filed at least 60 days before the event. If a nonprofit has already received a general fund grant from the county that same fiscal year, it would be ineligible for a sponsorship.
The new direction came as a result of council instructing staff in May to instate a procedure for all sponsorships. In the 2018 fiscal year, the county utilized $60,870 for sponsorships. In the 2019 fiscal year, the county spent $46,650 in sponsorships. Both figures are above the $40,000 figure in the new policy, and when a resident expressed concern over the figure being too low, County Council Chair Ed Kelley said the council can choose to go over it if needed.
The resident, John Nicholson of Daytona Beach, said that in his city, each commissioner is given a set amount of funds to sponsor events in their district. It was an idea that appealed to County Councilwoman Barb Girtman, who expressed that District 1's needs, access and abilities are not the same as those of the east side districts.
“We’re equal but we’re not equitable," Girtman said.
Several council members disagreed with her. Councilwoman Deb Denys said it's always a "dangerous slope" when they start defining things by districts. If a council members wants to support a specific event in their district, they can write a check and sponsor a table individually.
She said that's the normal practice, and that she didn't want to play the "district card."
Kelley said the council represents all voters collectively, and that there's never intention to discriminate against any one district.
Councilman Ben Johnson said the reason for the policy was that sponsorships were adding up.
“We had to take some kind of a stand to get control of it," Johnson said.
He added that he'd never seen an event sponsorship from West Volusia be turned down. This isn't accurate — In early April, the council voted 5-2 against a $5,000 sponsorship for the "Dreams Do Come True" weekend celebration later that month, which included a groundbreaking ceremony for the new DeLand Community Spring Hill Center. Johnson was among the council members who voted against the sponsorship.
Girtman responded that the disparity in events and access between the west and east sides of the county are a reality of how Volusia is made up. She doesn't want her district to be "slighted" because it has different needs.
“There’s an area of voters that vote for us," Girtman said. "We’re assigned a district that we represent. So yes, I’m going to stand and fight for my district just like I’m going to stand and support Volusia County.”
The motion to adopt the policy passed unanimously, but Kelley said he'd like to continue discussing her concerns at a later date.