County Agrees To Continue Partnership With COCA
Leon County will continue funding COCA. The group helps to promote arts in the community and administers the county’s cultural grant program.
County Commission Chair Bryan Desloge said he supports COCA, but pointed out the organization has faced questions about the integrity of its granting process.
“We’ve had some missteps in the last year relative to some grant procedures and the people came back to the [Tourism Development Council] with issues. We had a legal issue recently and COCA went out and hired legal counsel to come back and litigate with our legal counsel, which is spending our own money to solve our own problem--which is a little bit backwards from my perspective,” Desloge said.
County dollars make up the majority of COCA’s funding. Commissioners have agreed to continue that through the end of the fiscal year and are expected to later approve a five-year agreement with the group.
The county had considered ending its relationship with COCA and instead tasking the Division of Tourism with administering the cultural grants program and promoting local arts.
Update: In response to comments from Desloge, COCA officials clarified Wednesday no taxpayer dollars were used to hire a lawyer for litigation with the county. COCA Executive Director Kathleen Spehar said if legal counsel is needed, it is paid for through earned income sources--such as renting out a conference room in the COCA building.