Mayor says city should look hard at agency funding

April 22, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Danville has failed to follow its own policy for giving money to nonprofit organizations, again.

A review by the Advocate-Messenger of the nonprofits' applications found that few had a budget for city funds; instead, most have submitted the organization's entire budgets.

"When we give away tax dollars and we have a policy, people know the policy, they should adhere to it," Mayor John W.D. Bowling said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

However, most accounted for city money spent in 2002-2003. Last year, when the agencies made funding requests to the city, that was not the case, and again this year some just submitted their organization's entire budgets or audit.


Some agencies said they need city funds for specific projects. Danville-Boyle County Humane Society asked for $30,000 to help build an addition for cats and a visitor room.

Danville Chamber of Commerce wants $3,000 to print and mail relocation packets to businesses and individuals. Boyle County Fair Board asked for $10,000 to improve lighting at the pulling track.

YMCA said verbally during its presentation that it intended to spend the money on scholarships for kids whose families can't afford its programs.

Last year when asked by commissioners to review the legality of the requests, City Attorney Ed Hays wrote an opinion that said just because agencies didn't follow city policy "doesn't make it wrong or illegal, assuming they used the money the way they were supposed to."

Opinions from the Kentucky Attorney General's office have said that it is legal as long as the money is spent for a public purpose.

One question the 1999 AG opinion asks to determine if money is legally appropriated is whether the city could perform the function itself.

Bowling said he believes that some of the programs being funded could be done by the city, and he believes the city will be asking itself whether it could take over some of those functions itself.

Commissioners heard the organizations' presentations Tuesday. Total requests are $643,886 - that is $163,361 more than commissioners gave last year. Bowling expects commissioners will vote on the requests in several weeks, after city capital projects - such as sewerage, a fire station and public works garage - are budgeted.

Bowling believes the city needs to take a "real hard look" at how agencies are funded, and doesn't believe that funding can continue as it has.

"A lot of these agencies do wonderful things," he said. "Can we continue to go down this avenue with ... buildings that are 40 years (old) that need to be replaced?

"The five of us have a major decision to make ... there is only so much money to go around, we have to decide where to put that money."

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