The purpose of this M&C is to execute agreements with support groups and campus partners in continuance of the City Council approved Fort Worth Botanic Garden Strategic Plan.
On November 15, 2016, the City Council authorized the acceptance of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden Strategic Plan and referred it to the City Manager and Staff to develop strategies and polices for the implementation of the strategic plan (Plan) (M&C G-18885). The Plan established several key goals, including the reorganization of support groups and the increase of private support for the Fort Worth Botanic Garden (FWBG). The reorganization process took place in two phases – (1) implementing actions for realigning governance and existing financial resources and (2) realigning governance structure in anticipation that a single entity may serve as the future sole support organization for the FWBG to promote and manage membership and conduct fundraising.
License Agreements including construction-related fee waivers
The Fort Worth Garden Club (FWGC) and Fort Worth Botanic Society, Inc. (FWBS) are long-standing support groups of the FWBG and have significantly contributed to its success over the past 85 and 40 years, respectively. The City, FWGC, and FWBS wish to continue these relationships under the new management structure as established by Council. As those changes were anticipated when Council authorized current agreements, the current FWGC and FWBS contracts were set to terminate on April 1, 2019. This M&C requests execution of new license agreements for use of facilities at the Botanic Garden and for support group funded projects to the Botanic Garden.
Both license agreements authorize a waiver of construction-related permit fees. Permit fee waivers for any future improvements by the FWGC and FWBS are appropriate because they further the public purpose of improving City-owned property with privately-donated funds. Adequate controls are in place to ensure that this public purpose will be carried out under the terms and conditions of the Agreements, which require that all improvements undertaken by or on behalf of the FWGC or FWBS must receive advance written approval from the Park & Recreation Department and comply with all requirements set forth in the Agreements. Article III, § 7-47, Section 109.2.1 of the City Code, provides that work by non-City personnel on property under the control of the City of Fort Worth shall be exempt from permit fees if the work is for an action under a contract that will be or has been approved by the City Council.
Fort Worth Garden Club
On March 28, 2017, the City Council approved M&C C-28165, that authorized the City Manager to enter into an amended and restated agreement that allowed FWGC to retain special fund balances to be expended for the benefit of the FWBG and retain use of Garden spaces for an office, meetings, and events. Management of all city revenues were transferred to the city. The primary one-year term and two six-months renewal options have expired and the City and FWGC wish to continue this contractual relationship.
There are no significant changes to the key terms of the proposed New License Agreement. All funds remaining in the FWGC's special fund as a result of the prior agreements must be used and expended for the benefit of the FWBG. The primary term of this Agreement will expire on October 1, 2019, and will include two optional six month renewals.
Fort Worth Botanical Society
On March 28, 2017, the City Council approved M&C C-28165, that authorized the City Manager to enter into an amended and restated agreement that allowed FWBS to retain special fund balances to be expended for the benefit of FWBG and retain use of Garden spaces for an office, meetings, and events.
On September 30, 2017, the FWBS transferred all funds held by FWBS pursuant to the agreement to a Special Revenue Fund created by the City. On January 23, 2019, the City Council approved M&C C-28533 (Revised) that authorized an amendment to the agreement providing for all future revenue at the Botanic Garden generated by the FWBS pursuant to the agreement to be deposited in the City's Special Revenue Fund and addressing special events at the Botanic Garden conducted by the FWBS. Management of the Gardens Restaurant remained with the FWBS. The primary one-year term and two six-month renewal options have expired and the City and FWBS wish to continue this contractual relationship.
The primary change in the revised agreement is that FWBS will no longer manage the restaurant in the Rock Springs Building. The primary term of this Agreement will expire on October 1, 2019, and will include two optional six month renewals. The FWBS will continue to fund one staff position for maintenance of the Victor and Cleyone Tinsley Garden at Rock Springs under the FWBS's separate agreement for management of the John Tinsley Trust.
On October 10, 2017, the City Council approved M&C C-28427 authorizing a contract with the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Inc., (BRIT) to manage and coordinate education and volunteer programs at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden (City Secretary Contract No. 49874).
On November 13, 2018 City Council approved M&C G-19422 approving the Botanic Garden Strategic Plan Task Force recommendations to establish general admission fees, membership fees, and a financial accessibility program for the FWBG, and authorize city staff to pursue management of the FWBG by a non-profit organization.
Additionally, on March 5, 2019 staff presented Informal Report No. 10247, Joint Botanic Garden Membership with BRIT. The report provided details on implementation of a joint membership through amendment of the existing GROW Collaborative Agreement for education and volunteer management services between the city and BRIT. This creates a new program providing membership privileges to the Botanic Garden.
In order to facilitate the management of the membership program, an amendment is recommended to authorize BRIT to exercise additional rights. The proposed amendment to the agreement would continue BRIT's authority to manage the new joint GROW Membership Program for the Botanic Garden, including marketing for the membership program in an annual amount of $88,282.00. BRIT also retains twenty-five percent of annual net revenue from the membership program and transfer seventy-five percent of the annual net revenue to the City. By approval of this M&C, the amendment authorizes the City Manager or their designee the authority to negotiate the revenue sharing percentages on an annual basis and execute amendments to the agreement to adjust those percentages. In addition, the amendment authorizes the payment in the amount of $88,282.00 to be increased annually by three percent (3%) or increases in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is greater.
The GROW Membership would follow the membership fees established by the City Council on November 13, 2018 in M&C G-19422:
a. Individual, one named adult $50.00
b. Family, 2 named adults and all children less than 18 years in household $100.00
c. Lone Star Family $30.00
d. Dual, two named adults $80.00
e. Contributing, family plus one additional adult per visit $200.00
f. Supporting, family plus two additional adults per visit $500.00
g. Sponsor, family plus two adults per visit and two event tickets $1,000.00
The amendment also authorizes BRIT to:
(1) increase the membership fees in an amount that does not exceed the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index, subject to approval by the City Manager or the City Manager's designee;
(2) name each of the membership fee levels for marketing purposes; and
(3) increase the benefits provided to membership holders, such as discounts to special events or merchandise at the FWBG, subject to approval by the City Manager or the City Manager's designee.
The increase in benefits for membership holders may require a waiver of fees established by the City Council. An example may be discount levels at the gift shop. The waiver of fees is appropriate because it furthers the public purpose of increasing membership and revenue generated at the FWBG. Adequate contractual controls are in place to ensure that this public purpose is met.
Membership services have historically been provided through FWBS and not directly by the FWBG. Approval is requested for the new membership program to honor FWBS memberships sold before April 1, 2019 and lifetime FWBS memberships sold before April 1, 2017 for FWBG admission, applicable member discounts, and visitation privileges at other gardens participating in the American Horticultural Society's Reciprocal Garden Membership Program. Holders of FWBS membership would be required to convert their membership to a GROW Membership by May 1, 2020.
The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is located in COUNCIL DISTRICT 7 and serves the entire City of Fort Worth.