Friday, March 28, 2008

Neighborhood Councils Have Big Money to Spend

San Pedro neighborhood councils have approximately $175,000 to spend or lose by the end of the fiscal year, according to an analysis by a member of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

Writing for the public-interest journal CityWatch, Coastal’s Doug Epperhart found that San Pedro’s three councils have tens of thousands of dollars in the bank.

These funds have been accumulating through the years as the councils haven’t fully spent the $50,000 each receives annually from the City of Los Angeles.

Facing a mounting budget deficit, the city intends to take the councils’ roll-over funds back after June 30.

Epperhart’s message to councils is, “use it or lose it.”

Non-profit, artistic, cultural and community-service groups are among the possible beneficiaries of council support and funding. Groups must present specific and tangible funding requests. The councils are not permitted to make generic donations.

Councils have sponsored Shakespeare by the Sea and have pooled funds to buy all-terrain vehicles for the police, among other projects.

The councils’ April and May meetings are effectively the last opportunities to request funding.

Allocating the funds is a multi-step process that can take up to two months, so the clock is ticking for organizations interested in submitting a request.

As a general rule, proposals are first heard in a council’s budget committee. The committee decides whether to support the proposal and recommend it to the full council board. The request will then appear on the agenda of a council’s regular monthly meeting, at which time the full board will vote it up or down.

More information on the councils’ meeting schedules can be found in this overview of San Pedro councils.

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