Three organizations will receive financial help from the City of Solvang, but a fourth group’s request was tabled after Councilman Robert Clarke offered to pony up the fee that the youth football league had asked to waive.

On Monday night, the City Council considered requests from the Solvang Theaterfest, the Solvang Senior Center and the Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club, granting each funding pitch.

“There are all wonderful organizations,” Councilwoman Claudia Orona said, asking what was the point of boosting the city’s sales and transient occupancy taxes “if we’re not going to use it on the community when they need it.”

The item passed on a 4-1 vote with Clarke opposed, but donating $450 to the Santa Ynez Valley Pirate Football League for fees to hang a banner in the city.

The requests came as Solvang has seen some post-COVID-19 revenue rates return after a sharp drop during 2020 because of the pandemic, City Manager Xenia Bradford said.

The Solvang Festival Theater is undergoing a renovation project now estimated at $5.3 million. The organization has raised $4.5 million, and asked the city for $100,000 in the current fiscal year plus $100,000 for the next two years. 

Monday’s agenda item focused only on the current fiscal year funding requests with the future funding to be considered during the city’s two-year budget deliberations before July 1.

Solvang Festival Theater remained dark during 2020 because of public health concerns and had a limited season in 2021, harming revenue.

Backers hope to hold events beyond PCPA productions once the renovation project is done. Construction kicked off after the 2021 season ended.

“We really look forward to an expanded calendar of activity in the Theaterfest unlike what we had before,” board member Chris Nielsen said. 

The organization said the city funding would restore and expand events for the coming seasons.

About 40% of the theater patrons come from outside Solvang, staying in local hotels and eating at local restaurants. 

“Everybody wins when the theater’s complete — businesses, community, actors, everybody. We will re-establish all the traditional events that the theater has done throughout the years as well,” Executive Director Scott Coe said. “We can see it — it’s about 94 days away, so we’re really excited.”

The Solvang Senior Center sought a waiver of city fees, totaling $7,900, for its renovation project. 

“As you all know, our senior population is growing every day and our facility is getting worse every day. We appreciate your consideration,” said Tom Olmsted, co-chair of the steering committee.

However, the senior center is expected to return in the future with a larger request as it prepares to undertake a $3 million renovation yet continue serving the community. Volunteers have raised $2.6 million toward the goal. 

In the third request, the Santa Ynez Rotary asked for $25,000 for the annual Fourth of July fireworks show, which is staged in Solvang. 

Previously, the city has provided $10,000 for the pyrotechnic show. 

The Santa Ynez Pirate Football League asked for a waiver of the $450 fee for displaying a banner for two weeks.

League leaders said COVID-19 had taken a big bite out of fundraising opportunities while the organization also must cope with increased costs for renting playing fields. 

The league didn’t leave empty-handed, although the council didn’t approve the request.

Clarke, noting he had raised funds for other projects, said he would provide the $450 to cover the fees for the banner, adding he was wary of the other multiple requests.

“I don’t know two months from now what five groups are going to come to us for tax dollars. It’s not our money,” he said. 

He added that he supported requests from Theaterfest because the patrons, many of them visitors to the valley, boost city coffers and the senior center because the city should do “everything we can for the seniors.” 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at