City Council pondering $50,000 donation to veterans monument effort
By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles City Council and city officials are pondering a donation in the neighborhood of $50,000 to the effort to construct a monument honoring Niles' veterans.
Fourth Ward Councilmember Scott Clark at Monday's City Council meeting, proposed a motion, which was supported by Fourth Ward Councilmember Bruce Williams, to make the donation to the group raising private funds to construct the monument.
That effort, in total, is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $100,000.
The City Council, prior to the beginning of the group's fundraising effort, approved earmarking a portion of city-owned property at Riverfront Park in the area between the promenade and the amphitheater on which to locate the monument.
Clark said the group has raised about $40,000 in private donations, and he said it's time the city put in its share. His motion called for donating $25,000 from the current city fiscal budget and $25,000 from next year's budget.
However, the effort hit a snag when First Ward Councilmember Patricia Gallagher questioned from where the funds for the donation could come.
And, Third Ward Councilmember Robert Chute asked whether such a donation of city funds to a private project is even legal.
Robert Landgraf of Hadsell, Landgraf, Lynch and Drew of Niles, the city's attorney, indicated to City Administrator Terry Eull that the city's general fund coffers cannot be spent as a donation on a private project like the monument effort.
Niles Mayor Mike McCauslin questioned whether such a donation, even if its found to be something the council can make legally, would set a costly precedent.
Clark agreed to withdraw his motion in order for Eull and Landgraf to study the issue and identify potential funding sources.
Eull said Thursday afternoon that city funds from the water and sewer fund also can't be used for the project.
That leaves the city's electric division.
Should money from the electric division be considered, Eull said proper procedure would be to seek a recommendation from its citizen advisory board first.
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