The Twin Falls City Council decided this week that it will continue to provide money for local nonprofits through Municipal Powers Outsource Grants, but it wants to reconsider how and to whom the money is awarded.
The city initially considered scrapping the grants altogether, as they wondered whether the grants put the city in a difficult position of arbitrarily picking which nonprofits deserved a financial boost.
But the Council opted instead to revise how the grant money is awarded. Rather than having money with open-ended initiatives for nonprofits to pursue, Mayor Shawn Barigar said the Council wants to determine what objectives it wants to accomplish each year, then align where the money is awarded with those initiatives. Ideally, that will be determined using the city’s comprehensive plan as a guide.
That seems like a logical solution to us.
The city awarded $110,000 in MPOG grants this year and more than $1.5 million since 2003. MPOG grants are a small part of those nonprofits’ funding, but if the nonprofits collapse, it will be on the city to provide those vital services. In some cases, the city has two options: Assist in funding for the nonprofits now or fund them later as a city service.
Of course, some of the money does not go to necessities like shelters and senior centers, but rather to organizations that improve the lives of all residents in other ways. Grants have also been awarded to the Magic Valley Arts Council, the Magic Valley Symphony and the Orton Botanical Garden. But these are the kinds of tough decisions the Council will need to make. How much does the city value its entertainment options? As the Magic Valley continues to grow, that grant money for entertainment and the arts could go a long way in making the city more attractive for businesses and families alike.
But at least now, the Council is prepared to weigh those decisions against its comprehensive plan and determine what partnerships provide the most benefit to the city. Rather than scrapping the MPOG grants altogether, we think reversing the process and putting the initiative of seeking partnerships on the city is the right move.