The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority indicated Wednesday that it will seek signed contracts from now on for money it gives to nonprofits such as the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The authority has given money to civic groups without a written agreement, including the chamber and some of its related groups.
That can lead to misunderstandings, said authority board member Frank Kruppenbacher.
"It's left things to anybody's interpretation," said Kruppenbacher, who sought for and received a report from
Kruppenbacher's request came after a series of stories in the Orlando Sentinel detailing how tax dollars have been given to the Central Florida Partnership and its subsidiaries such as the chamber.
The four-page memo from Airport Director Phil Brown said almost $110,000 was sent to nonprofits during the 2011-12 fiscal year. United Arts received the biggest check, $50,000, while the chamber got $7,600. Neither had a signed deal.
Since 2005, Workforce Central Florida, a taxpayer funded jobs agency, has given more than $250,000 to the partnership and its related groups. Other agencies receiving tax dollars have given to the partnership, too, including an arm called myregion.org, that has received about $2 million since 2002.
Overall, the airport authority has given $63,255, with a little less than half going to myregion.org, according to a memo Central Florida Partnership President Jacob Stuart recently sent to members.
Kruppenbacher, whose sister-in-law Shelley Lauten is president of myregion, said he was not objecting to the contributions, just that they should be done in a "transparent" manner.
It is important that contracts are made so both sides understand "here is what we are paying you for. Here is what we will get," he said.
Authority Chairman Cesar Calvet said he supports having contracts with nonprofits and defended the chamber and its groups. "I'm a great believer," he said.
Brown said the chamber and affiliated arms helped the airport market itself to airlines, aided top officials in strategy sessions and provided access to top business executives in the area.
Board members did not comment publicly on Kruppenbacher's remarks Wednesday nor did they vote on any policy changes. But Brown said after the meeting that Kruppenbacher's suggestions would be followed.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, who also serves on the airport board, made a similar request about contributions to chamber groups from the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority. Jacobs serves on the expressway board, too.
Stuart did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday, but in a Feb. 18 email to civic leaders he wrote that "we should not hesitate to combine our efforts ... and leverage our resources for the good of the community."