County Council just voted to expand who can get a piece of their $240,000 in recreation funds.
Under the previous ordinance, councilmen were supposed to spend those funds on “community recreation purposes” of their choosing, defined as “community sports or leisure activities.”
But as The Sun News first reported in May, some of those funds were actually spent on food, T-shirts and a ballet performance.
The third reading of an ordinance passed Tuesday changes the name of the recreation funds to Community Benefit Fund, and expands the number of uses for the money. It also mandates that councilmen give only to other governmental agencies or nonprofits.
“I believe all this does is broaden the scope of where council members can spend these funds,” said Tyler Servant, the only councilor who voted against the ordinance. “I believe these recreation monies should be spent on core government functions like public safety and infrastructure.”
While the previous ordinance specified the money to be spent on “community sports or leisure activities,” the new ordinance allows councilmen to spend their funds on “furthering the social welfare; protecting public health; promoting education; developing youth and children; supporting senior citizen needs; enhancing public safety; supporting parks, recreation and leisure; or other community needs.”
Servant said that charities are a benefit to the community, but that county council shouldn’t decide which charities get taxpayer dollars.
“These dollars should be going to core government functions like police officers and EMS services,” he said.
Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said council changed the name to the community benefit fund “because some of it has been being used directly for recreation, which was the intended purpose.
“But in my preference, I’d just as soon get rid of it,” he said. “But I haven’t got that vote yet.”