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Placer supes dial down non-profit donation outlay

But supervisor expects revenue-sharing numbers to pick up again in coming year
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Spending is down for the three Placer County supervisors opting for a revenue-sharing program that dispenses grants to non-profit organizations from county funds.

Totals compiled by the county show that the three supervisors – Jim Holmes, Robert Weygandt and Kirk Uhler – dipped into revenue sharing during the past fiscal year for $24,150 and left $35,850 untouched.

Supervisors Jack Duran and Jennifer Montgomery have chosen to opt out of the funding program, and are rechanneling their districts’ $20,000 to be used by the county Health & Human Services Department.

The amount used this past year compares with the $53,376 spent the year before, when Duran’s predecessor, Rocky Rockholm, spent all but $50 of the Roseville-area’s District 1 allocation after being defeated by Duran.

Each of the five supervisorial districts is allocated $20,000 annually during the July-to June fiscal year to distribute to non-profit organizations. Revenue sharing has been criticized as a slush fund and efforts were made last year to move the decision-making away from the Board of Supervisors or halt the fund until the county finances pick up. They were rebuffed by Uhler, Holmes and Weygandt.

Holmes said changes in the application process – including posting applications online for public comment – haven’t had an impact. He said has seen no comments on any of the postings since the new approval format was put in place at the end of last year.

Holmes’ use of the program total last year was $13,550 – down from $19,850 the year before. He attributed the drop to a moratorium on revenue-sharing fund approvals by the Board of Supervisors between August and early December. During that time, staff developed a tighter approval process and Duran lobbied for a year-long moratorium.

“I’ll probably be back to the $20,000 level again,” Holmes said.

Uhler and Weygandt joined Holmes to vote as a block to retain the fund, while Montgomery and Duran were unsuccessful in an effort to curb the fund, at least for the short-term.

Holmes cited some of his donations as important ones, including the 4th of July celebration fireworks in Auburn, which are in Montgomery’s District 5. Holmes represented Auburn until after realignment in all of the city of Auburn being shifted into Montgomery’s District 5, which covers an expanse of Placer County that ranges from Foresthill to Lake Tahoe.

Montgomery said that as far as she knows, the changes are going well.

“Since Supervisor Duran and I redirected the revenue-sharing funds to Health and Human Services, I have not had any written requests to review,” Montgomery said. “The requests that have come in for the other supervisors have been posted on the county Web page for public comment before being brought to the full Board of Supervisors for review as directed by the board.”

In terms of requests from city of Auburn non-profits, Montgomery said she has had very few revenue-sharing requests.

“And those few have all been verbal requests and have been very understanding about the competing core county needs,” Montgomery said. “I make a point of trying to support as many community events as possible with my own private donations or with time and effort if my funds are short.”

Uhler’s District 4 revenue sharing outlay stayed about the same from the previous year, increasing marginally from $3,663 to $3,850.

Like Holmes, Uhler said he had no response from district residents to the changes.

“Revenue-sharing seemed to be a life-or-death issue for two or three people but for 99.9 percent of residents, they don’t seem to care,” Uhler said. “They care more about having a well-run county. If $15,000, $20,000 or $30,000 goes to help support the county’s mission, I think they’re fine with it.”

Uhler said he believes in making recommendations for revenue-sharing contributions that help support a legitimate public-sector function. That would include educational foundations or organizations the county Health and Human Services Department is already partnering with, he said.

The county’s website also lists organizations that were not funded. The Placer Breast Cancer Endowment and the Placer League of Women Voters were denied funding but had not been notified until the Journal contacted them this past week.

Other unfunded requests listed by the county were from the Lincoln Community Foundation, Crime Victims United, Friends of the Auburn Recreation and Parks District and the Loomis American Legion Post 775.

Carol Garcia, chairwoman of the Roseville-based cancer-fighting organization, said that she can understand both the need of organizations for funding at this time as well as the decision by Duran to channel funding to county programs. The endowment effort had received $1,000 in 2010 and $450 last year, when Rockholm was supervisor.

“I can understand that other funding could be more pressing than ours,” Garcia said.

The League of Women Voters was turned down in May for $125 to help pay for rental of the State Theater in Auburn for a public forum on Measure A, the Auburn city charter proposal. Pam Hart, the league’s director of voter services, said the rejection came a year after the group was granted similar funding for a voter-education forum.

Hart said the league, which counts Montgomery as a member, would have to absorb the costs with co-sponsor the Auburn Association of University Women for the rental.

“We were hoping it was still under Jim Holmes’ purview,” Hart said.

Hart said that there would be no reason to try for another grant because of the change in supervisors.

Duran said that the changes approved last fall have provided a good direction in the fund toward greater transparency.

Postings online now provide the public with a way to find out how revenue sharing funds are being distributed, including to what organization and how they’re being used, he said.

“It’s important, especially in tough times when people are watching more closely how government is spending money,” Duran said.

Weygandt, who represents the Lincoln area, couldn’t be reached for comment. Figures supplied by the county for Weygandt show that of the $20,000 allotted last year in revenue-sharing funds for District 2, $6,750 was spent. That compares with $9,913 the year before.

Revenue sharing’s top district beneficiaries in 2011-12

District 2 (Robert Weygandt)

$2,000 City of Lincoln (4th of July celebration)

$800 Lincoln Volunteer Center (Fundraising event to help support community projects)

$500 Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce (Chairman’s Circle membership to benefit business community)

$500 Sierra College Foundation (Taste of Excellence event to support scholarships, student programs)

$500 Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center (Celebrity Waiter fundraiser)

District 3 (Jim Holmes)

$2,500 Auburn Chamber of Commerce (4th of July celebration)

$1,000 Auburn Chamber of Commerce (State of the Community event)

$1,000 Del Oro High School (Aquaponics project)

$1,000 Placer County Japanese American Citizens League (442nd Regimental Combat Team memorial)

District 4 (Kirk Uhler)

$1,000 Tommy Apostolos Fund (Dinner-dance fundraiser to benefit Roseville’s children in need)

$500 Sierra College Foundation (Taste of Excellence)

$500 Kids First (Child-abuse prevention programs)

$500 The Lazarus Project (Services to support the homeless)

Source: Placer County