The Grand Terrace Lion’s club recognized me as one of the top sponsors for their 5k Freedom Walk/Run. I am writing and sharing the follow to set the record straight about this donation.
In Grand Terrace, Council members receive a monthly stipend, health insurance reimbursement and a car allowance as part of their benefits package. This has happened for many years but when the City was faced with cuts to public safety, parks and staffing in 2013, I pledged that I would stop receiving health insurance reimbursement and car allowance beginning with the new fiscal year. For me this was a sum of approximately $500 each month. If the staff and residents had to make sacrifices, I was willing to sacrifice as well.
The Lion’s Club 5k event is envisioned as an annual event to bring together the community as well as drawing others to the community and has the potential to become significant community event in years to come. As Lions club members began planning for the event, I learned that the estimated cost for Public Safety for the event would be approximately $2,500 for the additional law enforcement required to ensure the safety of the runners and walkers. Since the Council identified the desire to partner with organizations in the community, as part of the strategic plan, I asked if the amount equal to my car allowance ($2,400) had been otherwise allocated for the year and suggested that perhaps it could be used to defray the cost of the public safety requirement. The City Manager's answer was that since the City was not an official sponsor, the proper thing to do with respect to Generally Accepted Accounting Practices was write the check to me and I could then do with it as I wished.
I wrote the following request to the City Manager back in June of
"In June of 2013 as severe budget cuts were imminent, I pledged that if I was going to ask the community and staff to make cuts, I too would make cuts in my car allowance and health insurance reimbursement. It had been my practice to donate these funds to worthy causes in the community and so cuts to my allowance have meant cuts to service and other community organizations.
Since the anticipated budget cuts were averted by an unexpected revenue source, and with review of the FY 2014/2015 budget showing our fiscal position to be better than expected I am requesting my car allowance for FY 2013/2014 so that I may once again contribute it to a worthy community organization".
It was my desire to turn over my car allowance and make up the $100 difference with a personal check. It turns out the monthly car allowance is subject to withholding tax; so the net amount of the check was approximately $1,900, not the $2,400 I had expected. Nevertheless, I signed over this check to the Grand Terrace Lions club as a donation for public safety for the 5k and wrote a personal check to make up the difference for a total amount of the $2,500 donation.
I appreciate the Lion's recognition of my contribution at the August
13 council meeting and I offer a good natured challenge to my colleagues
to donate to the cause by becoming a named sponsor or at least
participate as a walker/runner on Sunday, September 14. It will be a fun
event for all ages and fitness levels.
I'm asking you for your vote.