Taxpayers no longer must pick up food tab

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2005

Despite defending a civic club’s past use of government funds to buy hamburgers and hotdogs for a community party, Councilman Charles F. Brown on Wednesday supported a new policy that prevents using public money for food and drinks at events not formally sponsored by the city.

The Suffolk City Council, during its work session, voted unanimously for the new policy that limits the city’s contributions at such events to items already on hand – tents, tables and bleachers – and to in-kind services, such as security and manpower to prepare and clean up from activities.

The policy was created after some council members criticized the city’s fiscal support of the recent Lake Kennedy Boosters’ Community Day, an event held in Brown’s district. Last year, the city spent $7,221, which included $3,000 in reimbursements for food.

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Last year, the city spent a total of $15,528 on non-city-sponsored events through the parks and recreation department: $4,147 on in-kind services, $11,370 on budgetary items.

&uot;I believe the recommendations (in the new policy) are fair and equitable,&uot; said Brown.

The Boosters Club picnic has traditionally been funded through the crime prevention portion of a Local Law Enforcement Block Grant, he said. Although the federal grant source dried up, the city continued funding the event through its park and recreation budget.

&uot;At any time, did the Cypress people or Boosters organization do anything unusual to receive any funding?&uot; he said. &uot;And did other council members not have the same access to this grant?&uot;

All protocol was followed correctly in the past, said Assistant City Manager Cindy Rohlf.

The new policy requires eligible organizations to:

-Fill out an application packet, which includes budget information on the event, at least 60 days prior to the event. Applications can be obtained through the city’s Neighborhood Development Services and Parks and Recreation departments.

-Applicants are encouraged to discuss their event requests with staff members before submitting applications.

-To be eligible for city funding or services, events have to further enhance the quality of life for residents, one of the Suffolk City Council’s established priorities for the city.