City’s funding pledge to VFW is early Veterans Day gift
Basehor's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post will now receive annual funding from the city.
A suggestion that the city provide funding to the VFW in honor of its community service came just in time for Veteran's Day, which is Nov. 11.
"It gets into the question of what organizations we should give funding to," City Administrator Carl Slaugh said to the City Council during its Monday night meeting. "The VFW is considered a private club and general public funds should be used for public services. Providing funds to a private club would cross a boundary that creates difficulties. That's not to say that we can't do it, but in terms of precedent, it creates challenges."
However, council members disagreed on what defines a private club and what defines a public club. Council member Iris Dysart said she requested a copy of the 2008 budget and found that the city has budgeted $20,625 for promotional activities and public relations. Some of the community groups that are set to receive funding include the PRIDE organizations, Chamber of Commerce and Project Grad.
"I consider it a public relations gesture," Dysart said about providing funding to the VFW.
"I think Iris brings up a good point," council member Keith Sifford said. "What constitutes a private club and what constitutes a public club?"
Slaugh said it was difficult to define because while private clubs generally target a specific audience and are not open to members of the general public, church groups are open to any person, but are considered private.
"The VFW does a lot of good for the community," Slaugh said. "They have a very visible positive image. They have the Christmas social for city employees at the VFW Hall, and they've offered to donate the use of the hall. We could give them a donation for that."
VFW Vice Commander Ed Bush was present at the meeting and said the rental fee for the hall was not waived specifically for the city, and the VFW allows all civic organizations such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and the PRIDE groups to use the facility free of charge. However, if a group wanted to use it for a graduation or wedding reception, it would be charged the full rental fee.
He also listed some of the community services the VFW provides such as essay contests and savings bonds for local students and its plan to line 155th Street with American flags for certain holidays. Other activities include providing a 21-gun salute at Homecoming, the Basehor Car Show and the city's Independence Day celebration and providing school programs on the different wars in history.
"I would consider that pretty public," Bush said. "The only way we can do anything is by donations."
Sifford asked if there were other towns that provided funding to its VFWs. City Clerk Mary Ann Mogle said the city of Tonganoxie uses the Tonganoxie VFW Hall almost on a weekly basis, so that is how that city makes a donation. Bush said the Bonner Springs VFW doesn't have a hall and the VFW hall in Leavenworth has a bar in it, which produces much of its revenue.
Bush said the idea to provide funding to the VFW was a suggestion from an outside party and not a request from the VFW. While the VFW would appreciate any donations, he said, members would not be offended if the city decided not to approve the agenda item.
"We're still going to be here and we're here for the community," he said.
The council approved, 3-2, with Terry Thomas and Sifford opposed, a yearly donation of $1,000 to the VFW. The amount can be changed on a year-to-year basis.
In other action Monday night, the council:
- Approved, 4-1, with Jim Washington opposed, an ordinance authorizing the imposition of a Transportation Development District Sales Tax in the city for the Wolf Creek Junction.
- Approved, 4-1, with Dysart opposed, a resolution declaring the city's eligibility to submit an application to the Kansas Department of Transportation for use of Transportation Enhancement Funds for the walking and biking trail project in the city of Basehor and authorizing the mayor to sign the application (Tomahawk Valley Trail).
- Approved, 5-0, a resolution declaring the city's eligibility to submit an application to KDOT for use of Transportation Enhancement Funds for the walking and biking trail project in the city of Basehor and authorizing the mayor to sign the application (Basehor Elementary School to City Park Trail).
- Approved, 4-1, with Washington opposed, payment No. 2 to H.E. Miller Construction for work on the 147th Street project and change order No. 4 in the amount of $169,499.
- Approved, 5-0, to adjust wages for new police officers based on years of service.
- Approved, 4-1, with Sifford opposed, authorization for the city administrator to write a letter to the Kansas Corporation Commission on behalf of the city opposing Suburban Water's proposed increase in rates.
- Met in executive session for 15 minutes to discuss information security.