The first motion passed by a unanimous vote.
But before commissioners had a chance to vote on the second motion, Chervony made a proposal of his own: contribute the $1,250 from the contingency fund, and also direct village staff members to find the rest of the money — $3,750 — from other accounts. If staff members are unable to locate that amount from city coffers, then, said Chervony, he would personally contribute the money.
“I knew before making the motion that there was money hidden,” Chervony told The Miami Herald after the meeting. He added that the village had budgeted funds for several positions this year that have not been filled. “But if there were a downfall, I would have accepted full responsibility in a philanthropic way.”
That motion, too, was withdrawn.
“I like the motion. I just don’t like the way it is crafted,” said Gonzalez, referring to Chervony’s proposal. “It’s city business. It’s not our personal business. It goes beyond the scope of what we are being asked to do here.”
That’s where finance director Bert Wrains stepped in and told the commission that his department has unused funds in its current budget. While an accounting clerk position was budgeted, Wrains said he has not yet filled the position, resulting in three months’ worth of salary savings. That would add up to $3,750, he said, sealing the $5,000 needed to support the market.
Commissioners unanimously approved a final motion to financially support the farmers market by budgeting the $5,000, $1,250 of which will come from the contingency fund and the rest from the Finance Department’s budget.
“The debate is good because we want to hear from everyone’s point of view,” said Lim after the meeting. “I think the market is going to be successful.”
On a visit to the Dec. 14 market, about 12 vendors set up their booths despite an afternoon drizzle.
Martin Bates sells $3 chocolate and almond croissants, chocolate and raspberry beignets, and baguettes from Miami-based bakery and cafe La Provence. Aside from the North Bay Village farmers market, he has worked at markets throughout Miami-Dade County.
“It’s always a tough going in the beginning,” he said, adding that “every single” market he has worked at was slow to pick up.
But Evelyn Chapman, a vendor of flavored artisanal pasta from Denver-based Pappardelle’s who has also worked at other farmers markets, said this one has been “exceptionally slow” to pick up.
“The cash, I think, will help,” she said, referring to the $50 incentive each vendor will receive on market days in January. “It’s not a long-term solution. It’s just to give us a chance.”
Like other vendors, Chapman blames the market’s slow start on lack of advertising. The village’s decision to utilize staff resources to promote the market was already implemented by the time the market met again. A note alerting residents about the market was posted on the village’s website and the causeway LED sign.
Chapman said that thanks to these efforts, the Dec. 14 market got more patronage.
“We’ve had more people coming in than last time, even with the rain,” she said. “I am hoping that each time it will pick up a little bit more.”