Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2005

City needs to give thought to frequent requests for money

April 21, 2005

Earlier this month, De Soto Boy Scouts and their leaders asked the De Soto City Council for help in paying the expenses for a trip scouts and leaders will take to Colorado this summer. The Council responded with a $1,000 contribution.

It was not the first time the Council has been asked to help with trips for youth organizations and it doesn't figure to be the last as word of its generosity gets around.

The Council agreed to help with the De Soto Wildcat Marching Band's trip to the 2004 Cotton Bowl Festival. Just recently, it agreed to contribute to the high school's after-prom party. In this space, we applauded the use of money from city's guest tax to help with the Dallas trip. That tax is to be used for economic development and promotion and a chance to showcase the city's youth on national television seemed as good a promotion as the Council could get for its bucks.

The De Soto Cub Scout troop was out Saturday morning in front of Morse's Apple Market collecting food for the De Soto Multi-Service Center. There can be no doubt that scouting activities improve the community and that children benefit from the scouting experience. The youngsters will return from the Colorado trip and the wilderness experience as more self-reliant individuals.

Still, it is very debatable that the trip qualifies for a city subsidy. If it does, where does the practice end? Would a quilting society, which enriches and provides companionship for its members, be in line for travel money to a convention?

The latest request raised eyebrows in City Hall. It was suggested the city develop guidelines and create some kind of lottery to handle the growing number of requests.

Foremost among any guidelines, is that the city should be the source of last resort. It should be approached after groups have demonstrated initiative through fund-raising events and after the community's civic organizations have been approached.

If the request is youth related, it should be an educational experience. Yes, parents can participate, but the youngsters should have the hard job of addressing the Council and writing a grant request.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with the Council asking, "What's in it for us?" It is reasonable to expect that all money the Council spends helps the city at large.

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