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Galt City Council approves new equitable policy to fund to local nonprofits

McFarland Ranch may have to share $10,000 next year

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Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:21 am, Wed Mar 21, 2012.

The Galt Area Historical Society will have to apply for the $10,000 it typically receives from the city each year under a new policy approved Tuesday by the Galt City Council.

The group may also be forced to share the money with other city nonprofits.

Under a new process, any local organization can request city funding by filling out an application that will ultimately go before the city council for approval. Among the questions that will be asked: What other available funding sources does the nonprofit have? What would the city money be used for?

The policy sets a total $10,000 annual distribution limit.

"It's a policy decision where you want to prioritize your funding," City Manager Jason Behrmann told council members Tuesday, adding that the policy will allow equitable distribution.

He pointed out that unlike bigger cities, Galt's population is too small to receive federal grants that can be passed onto local organizations. These are commonly known as Community Development Block Grants and are only available to cities with more than 50,000 residents.

But the chairwoman of the Galt Area Historical Society said she resented the organization's $10,000 essentially being taken away. The annual distribution began under former Mayor Daryl Clare's oversight, but no contractual agreement was ever made between the city and the group, according to Behrmann.

During the discussion, City Attorney Steve Rudolph cautioned the city council about what its members were voting on. "The decision to give or not to give to a certain group is not on the agenda," he said.

In the end, Councilman Randy Shelton requested that putting the policy into action be delayed to allow the Galt Area Historical Society time to apply for the funding. The motion was approved 3-2, with Vice Mayor Marylou Powers and Councilman Mike Singleton dissenting.

Before the vote was taken, resident Al Baldwin requested the process stay the same. Currently, groups come before the city council and request funding on an as-needed basis.

"It's worked in the past," he said. "This resolution is a bit of an overkill for a city so small."

Earlier in the meeting and with little discussion, the city council unanimously approved new rules to reduce the number of organizations authorized to sell fireworks.

In the past, the city has allowed up to seven booths to sell fireworks leading up to the Fourth of July celebration, but council members feel permitting only four will increase those organizations' profits.

Previously, local organizations could earn between $5,000 and $12,000 annually depending on how many days their booths were open. Now, with competition from nearby Lodi and Stockton, they earn between $1,000 and $4,000.

In order to raise the maximum amount, several organizations have approached the city asking that it reduce the number of booths allowed to sell fireworks annually.

"People seem very happy with four," City Clerk Elizabeth Aguire said Tuesday, adding that she received a number of phone calls in recent days.

The new city ordinance will allow the four groups to be chosen through a lottery. The nonprofits not making the cut this year will automatically be permitted to sell fireworks next year.

Applications will be accepted by the city clerk's office next month.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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