OGDEN — City officials believe a new policy will make private donations more transparent and allow for better money management.
On Tuesday, the city council voted to amend the existing Capital Improvement Plan ordinance to include a stipulation on donations.
From now on, any private donation of more than $30,000 going toward a city capital improvement project will have to be approved by the council.
Janene Eller-Smith, Ogden City Council policy analyst, said the new policy stems from a 2010 donation in which an Ogden citizen provided free construction services to build a set of Pickleball courts on city property adjacent to Mount Ogden Park.
Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis.
The planning commission reviewed and approved the site plan, and the city administration accepted the donation and agreed to allow the facility to be built.
The value of the donation was not disclosed to the council, but is estimated to be between $125,000 and $150,000.
Council members expressed concern over the acceptance of the donation because of the potential impact on the maintenance and operating budget, and whether the facility would place an additional burden on existing maintenance personnel.
“There were questions about how exactly these kinds of donations could impact certain budgetary matters,” Eller-Smith said. “And the council felt that if something could have a budgetary impact, they should know about it.”
Eller-Smith said the $30,000 watermark is high enough that smaller donations won’t be discouraged.
“We don’t want to make it so difficult to donate that people just quit donating,” she said.
Under the new policy, donors will also be required to submit a written donation statement, identifying the related project and purposes for which the donation is given, the total value of the donation, when the funds, goods or services will be delivered and certifying the donation is voluntary and made without condition.
Eller-Smith said the new donation policy was patterned after the way many universities deal with donations.
According to the council, the only other Utah cities with donation policies are Salt Lake City and Ivins in Washington County.