Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Give and Take One-Time Request, Debate Urged for Civic Gifts

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Give and Take One-Time Request, Debate Urged for Civic Gifts

Article excerpt

A St. Charles City Councilman hopes that requiring civic and charitable groups to file an application for money will bring some order and restraint to the council's procedures for contributing to civic and charitable institutions.

"I want to have an open discussion during the budgetary process about what we're going to fund and what we're not," said Councilman Michael Klinghammer, 7th Ward.

"It's a lot easier to hand out money at the beginning of the process than throughout the year, when you're trying to decide whether to help this group or wait to see if a more worthy group comes along," he said.

Klinghammer has been urging the council to entertain requests for contributions from charitable and civic groups only in the spring, when the council considers the municipal budget. That way, all such requests can be reviewed at the same time.

The council on Tuesday accepted Klinghammer's suggestion to direct the clerk to prepare a form that groups can fill out when they want money. The councilman said he would like to see the process function along the lines of issuing a grant, complete with guidelines for who will and who will not be considered for money.

Cities in Missouri are barred by the state constitution from giving public money as a donation to a civic or charitable group. That was the reason aldermen in Lake Saint Louis refused this week to give a $356 donation to a Boy Scout troop.

Gary Markinson, executive director of the Missouri Municipal League, says cities legally are free to contract for service with a civic or charitable group.

"If it's getting out of hand and every group in town is wanting to provide a service, I'd say they've got to put some constraints on it," he said of the situation in St. Charles.

Lyndell Porterfield, the city attorney, says he has cautioned the council from time to time that giving money to a group "can only be done through some contract where we're getting a service in return. …

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