New funding process for community organizations in Maple Valley

The city of Maple Valley has created two separate forms of funding for organizations as a part of its annual budget this year.

City Manager David Johnston explained that in the past the city used community grants to fund organizations. However, two years ago, they became aware that this violated the Washington State Constitution, which states a city cannot give organizations public dollars unless they provide a service to the poor and the infirm, a definition which many of these organizations did not fall under.

"We were giving grants to things like the Chamber of Commerce that really weren't providing services to the poor," Johnston explained.

In an effort to correct this, the city now offers a service contract for organizations that perform services which are normally done by the municipal government. Organizations such as the Lake Wilderness Arboretum will be able to apply for a service contract and request funding. The money allocated for a service contract can only be used to perform the service.

"It took us a while to decide what route we were going to go," Johnston said. "Once you find out that something is wrong, you can't continue to do it. You have to remedy it."

Organizations like Vine Maple Place and the Maple Valley Food Bank can continue to apply for community grants because their services are for the poor.

The budget is expected to be presented to the City Council sometime in late December at which time the applications for community grants will be voted on by the Council.

Johnston stated the service grants will probably be approved sometime earlier.

"Those organizations need to know if they're going to get the money sooner than later so they can do their planning," he said.

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