In working to bring accountability to Council District 4, my office has created the Discretionary Funds Task Force to effectively review and provide input on the use of discretionary funds, which have been questioned in the past by the residents of CD4.
The purpose of this task force is to refocus the funds on their intended purpose of benefiting the District and its neighborhoods. As part of this reform, my office is committed to seeking community input on how its discretionary funds should be used, and to making full public disclosure of all such expenditures. Council offices receive discretionary funding in several ways. Unfortunately, in some cases the expenditure of these funds have not had much transparency.
While this may be a problem throughout the City, several local news outlets have highlighted some especially extreme misuse of funds within Council District 4.
Going forward, the best way to prevent even the appearance of abuse is to apply a healthy dose of community input and public accountability. We need to start thinking “outside the box” for answers that will give us an advantage.
What can be funded? Discretionary funds can legally be used for any public purpose. However, the Discretionary Funds Task Force provides guidelines on what kinds of projects Council District 4 should consider as categories that could reasonably receive funding. In general, this includes traffic & transit improvements, neighborhood beautification projects, neighborhood or community events (e.g. block parties), and infrastructure improvements within the district boundaries. Requests for general donations, sponsorship, organizational operating costs (e.g. insurance, taxes, etc.) or requests related to for-profit activities or activities, not predominantly occurring within the district, will likely not receive funding.
Block Parties Policy: The Discretionary Funds Task Force has recommended a general policy for neighborhood block parties. Thus, requests for block party funding will usually be swiftly approved if it requests funds to cover 50% of City permit fees (maximum allowed by code), coverage of required insurance costs, and up to ten tables and 100 chairs. Requests for additional funding will undergo additional review.
Submission Timing Policy: Please submit requests for funding at least six weeks before funds are required. For large expenditure requests of $5,000 or more, please submit requests for funding at least three months before funds are required to enable enough time for pre-review by the Discretionary Funds Task Force. Note, if submissions are not submitted within those windows, we cannot guarantee enough time to review your request and thus may not be able to fund it.