By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
The City of Yukon will support local organizations and service agencies through a non-profit foundation instead of using taxpayer funds.
Money raised by the Yukon Community Support Foundation will be used for annual contributions the City of Yukon has made to groups like Compassionate Hands, Yukon Sharing Ministry, Youth & Family Services, the Yukon Veterans Museum, Project Graduation, and others.
“It won’t be City tax dollars,” Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby said.
The mission statement of the Yukon Community Support Foundation is:
To provide support to the City of Yukon, Oklahoma, its citizens and supporters including but not limited to enhancing the physical facilities of public property, providing education and entertainment, and all other activities benefiting the quality of life in the community.
The Yukon City Council at its July 7th meeting postponed indefinitely renewals of “agreement for services” with four organizations for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The City of Yukon, for many years, has annually supported local non-profits and service agencies through “agreements for services” using taxpayer dollars.
Ward 4 Council Member Aric Gilliland cited concerns about “the City’s ability legally to make donations” to these groups.
City Attorney Gary Miller told council members he had reviewed the contracts and they are legal because they are for services to the City of Yukon and its citizens.
Mayor Selby said she called the Oklahoma Municipal League and they told her the City of Yukon cannot donate to groups but recommended the Yukon Community Support Foundation cover the agreements.
COULDN’T EXIST WITHOUT THEM
Selby emphasized she is not opposed to these organizations.
“They are very, very important to our community,” she said. “And please don’t think that we lessened them because we’re not taking it out of taxpayer money. … Our community could not exist without these people.”
Yukon’s first-year mayor said the City will support these groups through donations from the Yukon Community Support Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization. The contributions will no longer be made through service agreements, she added.
The Yukon Community Support Foundation collects money through tax-deductible donations and contributions made at special events and festivals.
Foundation money should be used to fund outside groups so the City of Yukon “can use taxpayer money to pay bills, build roads and have programs,” Selby said.
One non-profit helping ministry appreciative of the City of Yukon’s support is Compassionate Hands, which has received $12,000 per year over the past decade.
“The City’s support is vital to the sustainability of this program that helps so many Yukon citizens with assistance during temporary crisis such as rent, utilities and personal items; and transportation for seniors and residents with disabilities,” Compassionate Hands’ Director Joanne Riley said.
“This funding results in the independence of so many who otherwise would not be able to live in their own homes.”
In 2020, as a result of COVID-19, Compassionate Hands has had to cancel or postpone four major fundraisers that were budgeted.
“So, all donations are especially appreciated and essential to continue our work serving Yukon,” Riley said.