I applaud City Council’s vote to help Tier 1 nonprofits who made their annual pitch for public funds.
Curiously, however, there was little or no attempt to quantify the proportion of benefit from those organizations flowing to city residents, who are the constituents to whom Council is primarily accountable and who have the first (if not only) right to benefit from money in City coffers.
To be sure, no city is or should be an island, but one gets the impression that, while receiving an undeniable but unknown portion of benefit from the good work of these non-profits, it is city residents who are the only ones contributing public money.
Are the County and other public entities in the Valley doing their share to help these nonprofits? Of public money flowing to the nonprofits, what percent comes from the City? Even greater largess might be justified if city residents had a better idea of how much they were benefiting versus how much burden they were carrying for the rest of the Valley.
Roughly 25 percent of the Valley population lives in the city. But what percentage of kids served by the Boys & Girls Club live in the city? What portion of the SEC budget funds projects in the city limits? Of those using the Sonoma Community Center and Vintage House, what percent live in the city? Of nonprofit staff funded with help of city donations, what portion are city residents? Based on these and similar measures, should the City’s contribution be more, or less?
Like water, public money is scarce. Sharing benefits and allocating burdens will always be a legitimate topic of discussion.