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Wayne Atherholt has an incentive for supporting BP settlement plan

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete’s cultural affairs office director Wayne Atherholt has an idea to sweeten the deal for City Council to approve Mayor Rick Kriseman’s plan to include $1 million for an arts endowment in the uses for BP settlement funds.

According to Nonprofit Quarterly, Atherholt wants to raise additional funds to add to the pot.

Already, the mayor’s plan would create $40,000 a year in additional grant money available to the arts. That figure grows the more money is put into an endowment. The city already contributes to the arts through $250,000 worth of grants each year and rent abatement for the Florida Orchestra.

“The grants are usually for general support because that’s always the hardest money to raise,” Atherholt told Nonprofit Quarterly. “They get grants from other organizations, but there are only certain things they can spend it on. It makes a big difference for many groups.”

The plan to use $1 million of the $6.5 million awarded to the city through the BP oil spill settlement already seems to have a fair amount of support. But there are conversations still rumbling about whether more of the award should be used for the city’s aging stormwater infrastructure.

The problems with the city’s pipes and sewage system attracted a heap of negative attention after the city dumped 15 million gallons of raw sewage into Clam Bayou and then later admitted another 15 million gallons of partially treated sewage had also been dumped.

Atherholt’s plan aims to make the decision one so sweet, council members can’t refuse.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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