Who Pays the Bills?

While Austin's New Year's Eve extravaganza carries the city's name and blessings, the job of doling out the funds to pay for the downtown party falls on the Austin Community Foundation, a 22-year-old nonprofit administrator of a slew of charitable individual and corporate funds.

"We serve as a connector between the givers and the recipients," says MariBen Ramsey, legal counsel for the foundation that last year topped the $5 million mark in the amount of grants it awarded to organizations around town.

In the case of the A2K New Year's party, the funds raised by the event planners are handed over to the foundation, which in turn pays A2K's bills, including event planner John Segrest's paychecks ­ without collecting a cent for its effort. The event is what Ramsey calls a "special project." "We provide these kinds of services for projects that we think are for the good of Austin," she says. "This is a very positive way of celebrating the millennium and bringing people downtown."

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