The Manassas City Council largely stuck by its funding system for the arts and other non-profits Monday night, as a competing system in surrounding Prince William County that had been proposed for the city has been criticized.
Manassas Mayor Harry “Hal” Parrish II (R), along with Councilmember Mark D. Wolfe (R) and others, had advocated for a non-profit funding system that would have appointed a citizen panel to make a recommendation on which non-profits to fund and how much.
That’s essentially the system that’s in place in Prince William, but it has come under fire, especially from members of Prince William County Symphony. That organization’s leaders have said too many dollars have gone toward the Manassas Ballet. The ballet is headed by Wolfe and his wife is the group’s artistic director.
In the end, though, council members voted unanimously to keep its funding system, in which a subcommittee of city council members is appointed to make a recommendation to the full City Council. That committee will now have only two council members, rather than three.
Wolfe abstained from the vote, citing his role in the ballet. Parrish, as mayor, votes only in case of a tie. Council member J. Steven Randolph (I) was absent.
“This is taxpayers’ money that is given freely to non-profit groups,” said Council Member Marc T. Aveni (R). “Council should be responsible for those dollars.”
The Manassas Ballet, which is headed by Wolfe but largely run by his wife, Amy, has received nearly 25 percent of the county’s $1.6 million allocation for all non-profits since fiscal 2005. County Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) has said he worries about the number of city non-profits receiving county dollars.
The amount allocated to non-profit organizations from the city is relatively small, down to $110,000 in the last fiscal year, and Wolfe and other have said it would be better for city council members to spend their time on schools and other larger segments of the budget.