There was some angst over the numbers and a few stumbles during the process, but the Spokane Valley City Council ultimately found a way Tuesday night to give several charitable and economic-boosting agencies extra funding in 2012.
Only one group requesting funds, Community Minded Television, ended up with nothing. The nonprofit had sought $19,456 for computer software and hardware, installation costs, salaries and provided Closed Captioning services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The agency only received one council member’s support to receive any funding.
Council Member Bill Gothmann initially supported a system whereby each agency that got at least four council members’ votes (which were anonymous) be averaged and adjusted to a final total figure of $150,000. But that plan eliminated funding for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Coalition of the Responsible Disabled and the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, for example.
“Anyway, that’s what I came up with,” Gothmann said.
Council Members Chuck Hafner and Brenda Grassel took issue with that approach, however. Hafner said he wanted to see funding for GSSAC, in particular, which works to curb drug and alcohol abuse among teens.
Grassel said she wanted to see agencies that got support from at least three council members be awarded something.
“We are, after all, a republic not a democracy,” she said.
In the end, the council agreed 6-1 to the following formula:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters -- $1,000 (requested $10,136, received $3,000 in 2011)
- Coalition of the Responsible Disabled – $400 (requested $2,000)
- GSSAC -- $2,000 (requested $8,700)
- Project Access -- $16,500 (requested $25,000, received $20,000 in 2011)
- Spokane Valley Partners -- $30,500 (requested $35,000, received $28,000 in 2011)
- Spokane Valley Veterans Forum -- $600 (requested $2,800)
- Valley Meals on Wheels -- $9,000 (requested $10,000, received $7,500 in 2011)
- YWCA – $3,000 (requested $5,617)
- Greater Spokane Inc. -- $41,500 (requested $51,000, received $51,000 in 2011)
- Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce -- $9,000 (requested $21,100, received $18,000 in 2011)
- International Trade Alliance -- $10,000 (requested $30,000, received $13,500 in 2011)
- The HUB Sports center -- $5,000 (requested $9,408, received $3,500 in 2011)
- Valleyfest -- $19,500 (requested $40,000)
One glaring omission from the list was the Spokane Valley Arts Council, which has received $5,000-$6,000 in past years. Jim Harkin, president of the organization, hoped for consideration and said his group missed the deadline to submit an application for a city contribution as it was “involved with city improvement at the time.” The Arts Council recently donated its second sculpture that now sits outside of CenterPlace at Mirabeau Point.
“I don’t know what the protocol is,” Harkin said, adding that he or other members of the council do not recall seeing a notice from the city.
Mark Calhoun, city finance director, said the Valley Arts Council was sent a courtesy letter informing it of the deadline, as were all organizations that received funding from the council in 2011. Advertisements and front-page notices also appeared in the Spokane Valley News Herald.
Cary Driskell, city attorney, said the city has never allowed an exception in the past.
“That has been our course of conduct for our existence (as a city),” Driskell said.
“If we were a social service agency we could bend over backwards for them,” he said. “But we’re not. We’re a city, and we’re governed by laws.”
Once the voting was over, Schimmels – who cast the only dissenting vote -- requested that next year the council agree that a four-vote majority for any agency should receive funding.
“We need some good rules here,” he said. “The majority should rule and then we eliminate this problem.”