Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sun Valley adopts policy to make grants

Express Staff Writer

Often approached for its well-endowed treasury, the Sun Valley City Council decided Thursday, Aug. 18, to approve a formal policy to consider funding requests from community organizations.

"I would hate to see the government become, what we call back East, the United Way," Sun Valley resident Peggy Tierney said.

In light of recent requests for facility, event and special-needs funding, the council unanimously voted in favor of a "Community Support Grant Policy."

The resolution defines a two-part policy—for grants up to $5,000 and for larger sums—to support funding requests from qualified organizations. The city offers financial support for community programs, facilities, events and special needs that further the citizens' health, safety and welfare and that align with the city's comprehensive plan.

A recent funding request from the Wood River Community YMCA emphasized the importance of instituting a policy to govern grants greater than $5,000. During review of the 2005-2006 draft budget, the council initially endorsed, and then decided to strike, a $100,000 contribution to the YMCA, which ultimately asked for $500,000 over five years.

After significant public comment on the matter, the council established a resolution for community support grants and intergovernmental agreements requesting support over $5,000.

Urged by Tom Praggastis, a former Sun Valley mayor, and sitting Mayor Jon Thorson, the council chose to strike language that could have enabled future councils to demand a voter referendum and approval for certain large-scale requests.

The council set forth that "special community support grants" exceeding $5,000 require review and action by the council, coupled with public comment. Appropriations are offered for a one-year period with preference for new start-up projects, expansion endeavors or extenuating circumstances.

The policy singles out, but does not limit, projects to special service projects, enrichment programs, humanitarian aid and youth programs that demonstrate public benefit and provision of direct services.

The approved policy endorses provisions exceeding $5,000 for intergovernmental agreements that provide services through regional cooperation in Blaine County.

Those ongoing regional efforts, as approved at the meeting for the 2005-2006 budget, allocate $337,500 to the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, $326,000 to support the Ketchum Area Rapid Transit bus service and $22,000 to support the Peak Bus commuter transit system.

Amounts less than $5,000 will be granted through monies allocated annually to the city's Community Program Support Fund. The annual budget process determines the yearly appropriation, which totals $15,000 in the 2005-2006 budget.

The policy emphasizes the funds are a contract for services provided as a one-time contribution, except for traditional recipients noted as the Wood River High School Senior Bash Committee, Jazz Jamboree band scholarship and the Soap Box Derby.

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