Naperville’s SECA Program to Receive More Funding; SECA Chairman Removed

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Changes are coming to Naperville’s Special Events and Cultural Amenities Commission

The city’s SECA Program will soon have more funds to distribute. At a city workshop on the program, the city council decided to reinstate an escalator on the fund that will increase it by two percent or CPI, whichever is lower, every year.

“We have a scarcity of funds. This year we had over 60 applicants and we had less than $900,000 for them. And most of that went to city services so it meant we had less to distribute to the cultural amenities we wanted to support,” said SECA Commission Chairman Rick Grimes.

The SECA Program is funded by a portion of the city’s 1% Food and Beverage Tax.

Another big change is the removal of the Legacy Events category, which previously included Ribfest and The Last Fling.

This comes after council’s decision this year to fund those events at 100% of their request, overruling the SECA Commission’s decision to give them less in order to distribute funds to other proposals.

That raised the question as to whether The Last Fling and Ribfest should be guaranteed full funding every year.

“We’ve also had some confusion as to what that name even means and if there were any rights that went with it. I think I speak for the commission in saying no, there aren’t any special rights, it just means that they can continue to raise funds without us scrutinizing them,” said Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, who represents city council on the SECA Commission.

Removing the label simply means that Ribfest and The Last Fling will be categorized as special events like many others that apply for SECA money.

They may or may not receive full funding based on how much is available and how many applicants there are on a year-to-year basis.

“Obviously they’re larger, more storied events in the city of Naperville, but we’ll be reviewing their application as any other event in the city,” said Grimes.

City council also approved the creation of an objective point-based system on which to judge applications.

The system, which may include criteria like attendance, location, and impact, will be put into full effect for 2020.

The other changes will start for 2019.

NCTV17 is partially funded by a grant from the SECA Program.

And on a related note, Mayor Steve Chirico is removing the executive director of Ribfest from his current position on the SECA Commission.

Rick Grimes will no longer be chairman of the SECA Commission, after questions were raised about a possible conflict of interest.

He’s been on the commission since May 2014 but is also currently employed as the Ribfest executive director. That group received just over $238,000 in SECA funds for 2018 – more than any other organization.

Though no longer the chairman, Grimes will remain on the commission, as long as he is able to remain neutral. In the past Grimes has always recused himself from SECA allocation discussions and votes involving Ribfest.

NCTV17 is partially funded by a grant from the SECA program.SECA

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.