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Village Council— Funding for nonprofits considered

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How should Village Council respond to funding requests from local nonprofits? Council members held an initial discussion on the issue at their Jan. 7 meeting, although the topic was discussion only, with no action taken at this time.

In the past three years, Council has received several requests from nonprofits for funding, according to Council member Karen Wintrow, who said it would be helpful if Council had a clear policy regarding these requests, which it does not currently have. Recently local need has intensified due to last year’s cuts in funding from United Way, which had funneled revenue to various nonprofits through Community Council.

The Yellow Springs Arts Council has submitted several requests to Council for operational or infrastructure support, according to YSAC member Deb Housh at the meeting, and Council has agreed to provide office space for the group in the Bryan Community Center.

“What we want is to work with you to find a process together where we can support the arts in Yellow Springs,” Housh said.

Some municipal governments do have a consistent strategy for arts funding since they view the arts as an economic driver, according to Council member Lori Askeland, who said she is comfortable “working with nonprofits in a targeted, clear way on specific projects.” Council president Judith Hempfling stated that the Village already funds youth activities through its Bryan Center youth space.

However, Karen Wintrow stated she’s uncomfortable with Council funding nonprofits, especially for operational expenses. In researching the subject, Wintrow heard from some nonprofit administrators who felt that municipal funding could have a negative effect on their fundraising efforts.

Also, Wintrow said, “It would be a real sea change” for Council to begin providing funding for nonprofits.

Sue Abendroth urged Council to resist funding requests from nonprofits. Individuals have the option of giving money to the groups of their choice, she said, but “Council should not make that choice. It’s a misuse of public funds.”

But the issue is “complicated,” Hempfling said, stating that it’s common for municipal governments to form partnerships with nonprofit groups.

“It’s not black and white,” she said.

Council members requested that Village Manager Laura Curliss research models of municipal funding of nonprofits and bring the information back to Council for further discussion.

In other Council business:

• Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance for an annual transfer of General Fund revenues to other Village funds. The transfer, which Curliss described as a “housekeeping item,” totalled $1.2 million for all transfers.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution implementing a policy governing art in public spaces, the result of several months of dialogue between Council, Cur­liss and local arts groups.

• Council tabled a vote on the second reading of an ordinance that would prohibit the drilling of new wells in the Village, and would also require the capping of current wells. The Village had been asked by Greene County to ban new wells due to concerns around past Vernay Laboratories groundwater contamination at their Dayton Street site, according to Curliss. However, Mark DeLozier, a neighbor of Vernay, stated that he receives regular reports from the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, which is overseeing cleanup of the site, stating that his wells are safe to use. Council tabled the vote until Curliss could clarify the different information coming from the EPA and Greene County.

• Council voted 4­–1 to pass a resolution to purchase an electric car charging station for the Village, with Rick Walkey voting against the measure. The electric car charger, which costs $7,800, will be located at the Bryan Center parking lot, and is aimed to attract electric car owners to the village.

• Council had an initial discussion on 2013 Council goals.

• Council’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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