“The society executive board and myself have major concerns about the modification in policies of city funding for the Sandy Springs nonprofits,” Sandy Springs Society President Kate Dalba said at the Sandy Springs City Council’s Feb. 4 meeting.
The all-female, all-volunteer entity, in its 25th year of existence, supports Heritage Sandy Springs and other area nonprofits that promote the arts, heritage, education, the environment and social services. For officials there, the sticking point is how the policy addressing the matter is written and the inherent implications.
“What we are concerned about is the wording that would exclude nonprofits such as ours the chance to apply for direct funding for staging an event in Sandy Springs,” Dalba said. “The society currently has two events: Tossed Out Treasures, which is always in March — in its 22nd year — and our Elegant Elf Marketplace.”
Under the new guidelines, fundraising cannot be the primary function of a nonprofit’s programming aided by city funds.
As part of its campaign, society personnel urged council members to add clarifying language for the nonprofit policy at the meeting.
At the meeting past society President Valerie Love reflected on the organization’s current and historical relationship with the city. “The 300 of us in the society decided early on that we wanted to help our city keep growing in a positive way, in an impactful way, in a way that would help enrich the lives of our citizens.” Love said.
The city’s fiscal 2014 budget allows for more than $400,000 in direct appropriations to several nonprofits, including monies dispensed to Sandy Springs Youth Sports and the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce. Another $50,000 in funds is available to local entities of that ilk on a competitive basis.
“Qualifying organizations in Sandy Springs like the Sandy Springs Society deserve an equal treatment under the city’s policies,” said Dalba. “Once suitable language is found that confirms all funding will go directly to the production of an event, that language is key to maintaining the important direct fiduciary relationship between the city and the Sandy Springs Society.”
In an interview Monday, Mayor Rusty Paul said the proposed changes to the city’s policy are designed to doubly meet legal and financial auditing standards and narrow its focus — not preclude the Sandy Springs Society from applying for funds. “We’re just kind of tweaking our approach to assisting nonprofits in the city,” Paul said. “In accordance with financial reporting requirements, we want to streamline that to one pot.”
Paul said city officials and the Society have held constructive talks to help the latter adapt to the changes.
Under the new guidelines, fundraising cannot be the primary function of a nonprofit group’s programming aided by city funds.
Paul said the society’s recent beautification project targeting the median at the Hammond Drive-Mount Vernon Highway intersection and dedicated to former Mayor Eva Galambos is an example of an endeavor eligible for city funding — as opposed to Elegant Elf and Tossed Out Treasures fundraisers.
“There must be a larger community programmatic benefit,” he said. “The Sandy Springs Society is probably one of the greatest nonprofits we have in the city — they’ve raised around $2.5 million for [the betterment] of Sandy Springs.
“[The change in policy] is just a matter of structuring things to make sure…our auditors and attorneys [approve].”