While the city has said yes to repeated funding requests from Jammin on Janesville and , aldermen are now talking about when to pull the plug—and how to keep the community funding system fair.
Aldermen started talking about the issue during Thursday's Committee of the Whole meeting about the 2013 budget, and realized they aren't sure how to handle repeated requests from organizations for city funding.
Requests in the 2013 operational budget include $19,000 from the to help support the three events of Jammin' on Janesville, as well as $5,000 for Muskego Senior Taxi. Many aldermen started to question whether these requests should remain separate line items in the budget or if it was time for the city to create a more generic pool of funds to support all area organizations.
Alderman Dan Soltysiak said he would prefer the city to move to a system where a pool of money is set aside that all community groups could apply for, rather than designating specific, repeating funds for individual events or organizations..
Funding for Jammin' on Janesville and Muskego Senior Taxi come out of tax incremental finance residual funds, which is not replenished every year, and will eventually run out.
Aldermen also pointed out that the city's potential contribution of $19,000 to the Chamber of Commerce was more than the $14,000 the chamber was committing to the event. Community development blog grants paid for the first year of Jammin' on Janesville, but funding since has come from the city.
"I have an issue with the city funding the chamber," said Alderman Rob Glazier. "Aren't they funded by the businesses? I just am not comfortable with the governance of this."
However, Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti explained that the intent was never to create ongoing funding for Jammin' and said that after construction is complete the chamber may not continue to request monies to help fund the event. The final phase of construction on Janesville Road will take place next year.
She also warned that opening up a line of funds for anyone could create a virtual line at the doors of city hall for donations, and that the council would need to provide specific criteria for all requests made by nonprofits and other community groups.
Muskego Senior Taxi, which provides low-cost rides to seniors, has also petitioned the city for continued funding for about the past four years, and while everyone on the committee agreed they provided a valuable service to elderly residents, they said singling out any one organization seemed unfair to others.
"I have no problem providing seed money to get organizations off the ground, which was the original intention with Senior Taxi and Jammin' on Janesville, but don't come back to us to look at the long term and keep funding it," Alderman Kert Harenda said.
"I'd be more entertained to see a fund that we could set aside with a certain amount of money, whatever we decide, and not be specific to any organization, because then we're not excluding the rest of (these organizations)," Harenda said, agreeing with Soltysiak's earlier suggestion.
Prior to a final draft of the budget, the committee agreed to invite a representative of Senior Taxi and Tina Weiss, executive director of the chamber, to a future budget meeting. The council will be seeking information to answer questions to determine how and if they should grant the request, and what the future intentions for the Chamber and the event would be.