PLATTSMOUTH – City Council members never voiced a “yea” or “nay” to committing local taxpayer dollars to the Plattsmouth Community Foundation Fund, but the answer to the nonprofit organization’s request was a “no” at this point in time.
At the Oct. 15 meeting, Councilman John “Blackie” Porter made a motion to table a decision on the Foundation Fund’s request for a donation, but no one on the council provided a second for the motion, making it unnecessary to call for a vote.
The Foundation Fund was formed as a catalyst for charitable giving in the city and surrounding area. The fund supports civic, recreational cultural, educational and other programs in the community. It also provides scholarships to youth.
At the council’s Oct. 1 meeting foundation member Mike Schuldt led a citizen’s delegation requesting a donation from the city.
Schuldt: “The Plattsmouth Community Foundation Fund started 16 years ago as a way to give back money or give back to the community. Each year the foundation gives out over $15,000 in grants to local entities. To date, PCFF has given out $175,000.”
Of that amount, according to foundation member Rex Goracke, nearly 59 percent ($42,939) of all the grants given in the past 12 years have helped fund projects spearheaded by city of Plattsmouth departments.
These funds have been used to purchase body cameras for the police department, computer tables for the fire department, plaques for Garfield Park, fenced-in play area for the community center and much more.
A donation from the city now would help the foundation meet the Sherwood Foundation’s challenge to raise $400,000 by December. In return, the Sherwood Foundation would match every dollar raised with 50 cents.
Schuldt: “We would get a $200,000 matching grant and we’re out letting the community know what we’re doing and raising funds. If the council could help us out financially or any other way it would be appreciated. So far, we’ve raised half of the money but we still have a long way to go.”
Over the years, the foundation have provided grant funds for the Plattsmouth Volunteer Fire Department, Plattsmouth Public Library, Plattsmouth Community Center, Emergency Medical Services, Plattsmouth Police Department and other city departments.
Council tabled a decision until the Oct. 15 meeting, so members could consider all aspects of a city donation.
Council member Sean Minahan said he talked with Schuldt following the Oct. 1 meeting about whether a donation from the city would be appropriate use of taxpayer funds.
Minahan noted that the foundation’s contributions have helped the city over the years.
Minahan: “ That’s quite an investment back into the community. Obviously, we wouldn’t want every nonprofit to come to the city for funding, but we might make an exception for this one. I understand Erv’s (City Administrator Erv Portis) concerns about taking money from the keno fund for it, but I don’t know what the PCFF is looking for.”
Councilwoman Cheryl Grimshaw noted the PCFF has significantly contributed to the city, but that the keno funds have already been earmarked for the community center.
Portis: “PCFF plays a very important part in our community. But we also get money from the Midlands Community Foundation, the Kiewitt Foundation and other entities. The pain of the budget process is that our needs are always greater than what can be budged for. Ask the elected officials to think about the conversations with the department heads. ‘Why can’t we do this?’ ‘Why can’t we get this?’”
Councilman Steve Riese commended the PCFF for its work in the city.
Riese: “But we have the trust of the taxpayers to spend their money on city things. To turn that trust over to another entity is something we shouldn’t do as much as we would like to.”
City Councilman Terry Kerns was against tabling a decision to a later date.
Kerns: “Why would we table it?”
Councilman Doug Derby: “Because right now, we don’t have any funds.”
Kerns: “I get that but they are up against a deadline…I think we should take a vote.”
Riese: “We could vote but is there a reason to? I think it’s better not to have a vote on it.”
Portis explained that no vote would be needed if no one seconded the motion.
Portis: “We could just move on. With no second, the motion dies.”