Denver-Area Science And Culture Board OKs New Funding Formula

Photo: SCFD public meeting at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster
A public SCFD board meeting took place at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster on Oct. 22, 2015.

After hearing alternative funding proposals at a public meeting Thursday, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District board of directors decided to move forward on the plan it adopted in May without making changes.

That plan would give more money to smaller groups. But many say it's not enough.

There are millions of dollars at stake in the decision, and members of the arts and culture community shared their thoughts on how revenue from a Denver-area cultural tax should be split among competing interests.

Since 1989, SCFD has distributed revenue from a 0.1 percent sales and use tax to hundreds of arts, culture and science organizations in seven counties across Denver metro and the Boulder area. In 2014, $52 million in SCFD funds went to about 270 organizations, ranging from big ones like the Denver Botanic Gardens to small ones like the Evergreen Children’s Chorale.

"Everybody has a different idea of what that perfect proposal and the perfect thing will look like," SCFD board member Elaine Torres said. "There has been a very extensive, inclusive process, and I feel that every recommendation that came forward to us in April was really thought out and was taking the taxpayers into account.”

Five large groups in what's known as Tier 1 currently share 64 percent of the funds, while 28 regional organizations in Tier 2 share 22 percent, and around 240 smaller organizations in Tier 3 share 14 percent.

If voters approve an extension of the SCFD tax in 2016, the following levy allocation will take effect in 2018:

  • If funds exceed $38 million: Tier 1: 57 percent; Tier 2: 26 percent; Tier 3: 17 percent
  • If funds fall below $38 million: Tier 1: 64 percent; Tier 2: 22 percent; Tier 3: 14 percent

Officials will now proceed with drafting a new bill for the next legislative session, which starts in January. If passed, the tax district and its changes will go before voters during the November 2016 election.

Read more about SCFD, the recommended changes, and its 2016 reauthorization here.