The Newburn Funds

by Don on April 23, 2008

in Reflections, Ward 3

A ward three resident wrote to express his disappointment in my vote to approve the use of Newburn fund money for the purchase of “park maintenance equipment.” He made two points in his letter. First he sees the use of the Newburn Fund money for mowers as an inappropriate use of those funds. His second point was to affirm the need for a review of the city’s policy for maintaining and replacing equipment.

I responded saying:
“I agree with you the city needs to set up a policy for maintaining and replacing equipment. I’ve voiced my concern about the way we budget for replacing equipment at committee meetings and at Council meetings. I will continue to work to insure the City has a systematic way to replace equipment.

“I see your point on the Newburn funds. At the time I voted I saw the expenditure as a capital improvement. I think it is appropriate to spend the Newburn funds on capital improvements for our parks. Therefore buying new mowers, used to keep the parks usable and beautiful, is as apt a use of the funds as buying a new ice-cream machine or a new ride for Cody Park.”

In a follow up letter this constituent said he saw my point as a semantic and convenient way to circumvent the true nature of Mr. Newburn’s gift. He also voiced his concerned that people may be dissuaded from giving to the city if their wishes can be disregarded.

I share his concern about taking actions that would dissuade people from giving to the City. At the heart of the discussion is how to interpret Mr. Newburn’s intentions. All I have to base my decisions on is the will itself. Read the relevant section of the will here:

In part the will says:
“…shall be used by said City only for the purposes of the improvement of existing parks in the City or acquisition of a new park site or sites in the City and the improvement thereof by means of additional equipment, facilities or buildings to said parks. Said bequest and devise shall not be used by said City for the purposes of funding ordinary maintenance and repair of existing parks or a new park or parks obtained through the use of this I bequest and devise or the proceeds thereof.” (Emphasis added)

There is room for discussion about the use of the interest produced from the Newburn funds. I would like to hear from other citizens of North Platte on this issue. I’m sure the use of Newburn funds will come before the Council in the future. Please let me know what you think. Leave a comment on this blog or send an e-mail to me at: npward3 at gmail.com.

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