Everyone on the Laramie City Council wishes there was enough money in the Community Partner Fund to grant the full amount requested to all the 26 “very worthy” applicants, Mayor Joe Shumway said, but the funding just wasn’t there. Some of the applicants for the Community Partner Program, however, expressed concerns to council members before Tuesday’s meeting about whether the process to allocate the funds is fair.
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the Laramie City Council voted to allocate $190,945 in available funding to 26 organizations applying for the Community Partner Program. The organizations presented their requests for funding during a March 26 work session, requesting a total of $321,046 in funding. Applicants included quasi-governmental agencies, like the Albany County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue; social service organizations, like the Downtown Clinic; and recreational/cultural organizations like the Laramie Historic Railroad Depot.
Each of the organizations received some funding, but none of the 26 applicants received the full amount requested. After the presentations at the work session, each council member chose their individual funding priorities and preferences, and city staff averaged the nine separate recommendations to get the total amount awarded for each applicant.
Councilman Paul Weaver, however, said a few of the community partner applicants approached him between the work session and Tuesday’s meeting to express concerns about fairness of the averaging method used to award the funds.
“I think the council over the years has tried a few different ways, and this averaging-out of the requests still seems to be — to me, in my mind — the best way to do it,” Weaver said. “But I think going forward, if agencies have suggestions that they want to make, and they make them well before we start the process, we can take a look at it.”
Councilman Brian Harrington said Community Partner Program applicants also reached out to him regarding how “one councilor’s opinion can sort of sway their funds substantially.”
“I would agree with Councilor Weaver that this still may be the most successful way to accomplish the goal,” Harrington said.
The Council voted to approve the funding allocation averages unanimously.