By Lee Perlman
For the Hollywood Star, January 2010
The Irvington Community Association made a second pass at its budget last month, and restored much of the money they have traditionally given to local causes. Rupert Prince’s budget committee had proposed slashing the charitable giving budget to $7,000, barely half of what they had given in past years. A revised budget developed mainly by land use chair Dean Gisvold restored the amount to $12,500.
Critics at a previous meeting had questioned bequests to some of the charities, claiming they did not in fact benefit Irvington residents, and that the money would be better spent on physical improvements that the entire neighborhood could use. Parks Committee chair Jeff Jones said, “Capital project funding produces something tangible that remains here, as opposed to money that disappears, it’s gone, and it didn’t benefit most people.”
Longtime board member Charlotte Uris replied, “I see charitable giving as integral to our neighborhood. It’s not just ‘charity,’ it’s for us. There are a lot of poor people living here.”
Another issue was “special” funding requests not contained in the budget, including $1,000 loaned to the Irvington Farmer’s Market last year and a donation to a Madeleine Elementary School athletic field several years ago. Several people said they felt “bullied” into giving these requests and suggested that, as a matter of policy, the granting of such funds be delayed by at least a month.
To this, chair Christine Coers-Mitchell replied that members have no one but themselves to blame if they are “bullied.” Irvington Market manager Brad Perkins said, “Without that $1,000, the Market wouldn’t have happened. It’s important we preserve the possibility for us to do that sort of thing.”
The ICA’s annual Historic Home Tour annually nets more than $25,000, giving the group an income far in excess of most neighborhood organizations. Some of its board members have grown uneasy at the organization’s level of spending and have called for a “rainy day fund” and a more conservative approach to finances. Gisvold’s budget called for appropriating the necessary operating budget for the next Home Tour and retaining a $6,000 contingency fund. He also called for revisiting and revising the budget through the year. His recommendations were approved by a large majority.