Town Underscores Policy Of No Donations At All

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2013

FARMVILLE — On the heels of turning down a request by the Prince Edward County Branch of the NAACP for event sponsorship, Town Council adopted a policy to make certain the no-donation stance is applied consistently for all such requests.

The Town began cutting back on donations several years ago in response to fiscal constraints and budget tightening. Earlier this summer the Town turned down a sponsorship request from the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The NAACP is hosting a banquet on September 12 to honor all retired school teachers and administrators from the Prince Edward County Public School System “to acknowledge them for the work they have performed to improve the quality of life in our community,” NAACP chapter president James E. Ghee, wrote in a July 29 letter to Town Manager Gerald Spates asking for a $1,000 sponsorship.

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The Town would have been listed as a sponsor in the NAACP event’s program, acknowledged during the event, itself, and the Town would have received eight banquet tickets.

Town council acted on the request during its August work session last week, rather than waiting for the regular monthly meeting Wednesday night, because the NAACP hoped for the Town’s “immediate attention” to the request.

When the request was brought up during the work session by Spates, as he went through the August agenda items, council member David E. Whitus said he thought “we were not doing any contributions.”

Fellow council member Dr. Edward I. Gordon summed up his own position by saying, “I’m not for sponsoring anything…I mean, we’re cutting costs.”

Dr. Gordon noted revenue decreases, citing the drop in building permit fee revenue this year, which had been noted earlier in the meeting, as an example, and offered to make a motion.

Spates reminded Town Council that “we turned down sponsorship of the chamber” and council member Tommy Pairet said turning down the NAACP would be consistent with town council’s philosophy.

“We’re staying right in line with what we’ve been doing,” Pairet said.

Dr. Gordon noted that the NAACP is a worthwhile organization, as others have been which have made funding requests that were turned down by the Town.

“We’re going to stay true to ourselves,” Dr. Gordon said, saying town council needed to apply the policy “across the board.”

Whitus agreed, saying “I don’t think it’s a problem as long as we’re consistent.”

Members of town council, he noted, are free to make personal donations or personally buy tickets to events, but the Town, he continued, doesn’t make contributions and doesn’t buy tickets to events.

“If individual council members want to attend events they should personally buy a ticket,” Whitus said.

“We have to be consistent,” Dr. Gordon agreed, pointing out the change in the economy, with a drop in Town revenue, had forced Town officials to rethink the donation policy.

“We can’t do like we were. Nobody is like they were five years ago…” he said.

The Town is also picking up a larger buck passed by the state, according to Spates.

“The state is passing all costs that they have on to the localities,” the town manager said.

After the vote not to sponsor the NAACP event was unanimously adopted (council members Vice Mayor Armstead D. Reid and Sally Thompson were absent and Donald L. Hunter was no longer present) Pairet offered a motion to ensure town council doesn’t deviate from the no-donation policy when similar requests come from other organizations.

“I’d like to make a motion that we stay consistent with our policy in response to what we just voted on, that we do not, as a Town, buy tickets for an event, that the council members, if they are so inclined, should do it themselves,” Pairet said. “It should not be the responsibility of the Town of Farmville to purchase these tickets.”

Dr. Gordon amended the motion to include gifts, as well—the Town is sometimes asked to donate toward a gift for someone—and the motion passed without dissent among those present.