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Galesburg Writes Checks to Non-Profit Groups

T.J. Carson
Galesburg provides the funding to groups such as Habitat for Humanity, the Knox County Fair, and Railroad Days.

The city of Galesburg gave a total of $92, 858 to be split by 16 local not for profit organizations.  The money comes from the city's economic development fund. The city chose the groups based off of their ability to boost tourism within Galesburg.

The city gave more money than it had intended due to increased interest and need from local non-profits. Galesburg administrators had recommended giving just under $80,000, a figure largely based off how much money the city gave last year. 

Some representatives from the groups seeking city funding spoke at the city council meeting this week. Greg Saul of the Great Balloon Race told aldermen his group would use the money to bring in a hot air balloon dedicated to veterans.  

Mayor John Pritchard spoke on behalf of the United Way of Knox County telling aldermen, it would use the money for the annual 4th of July fireworks show.  Other groups, like Galesburg Community Chorus and Nova Singers, requested city funds to help cover the lack of state aid in recent years.

Only one group had its funding request denied. Galesburg Youth Baseball asked for $14,400 to pay for new batting cages. City Manager Todd Thompson said that doesn't qualify for funding because it doesn't help promote tourism or bring visitors to the area.  Thompson said the city will look at other funding sources to help cover the cost of the cages.

Credit TSPR's TJ Carson
Aldermen approved a compromise to fund the groups halfway between the city's recommendation and the group's request.

Aldermen approved funding the organizations. But said they want more measures in place to know where the money goes and how its been spent.

"As there have been more groups and larger requests, it's become kind of apparent that we need to have a system for trying to evaluate these," Thompson said.

In 2013, the city gave $45,000 in contributions to 10 local organizations. The next year, the city gave $70,000 to 14 groups. The city held firm in 2015 and 2016, giving $80,500 each year to 17 different non-profit groups.

To receive city funding, organizations submit an application and agree to only spend the aid on the projects detailed in the application. But the city doesn't have  a formal review system in place for tracking whether that agreement is kept.

Thompson said that the city is working to develop a system to evaluate applicants.  Third Ward Alderman Russell Fleming said he would like that to include balance sheets, income statements, and salary reports.