The Sun Valley City Council decided to provide a total of $15,500 out of $25,000 allocated in the budget to special events considered by the council during Thursday’s meeting.
Of five events considered for funding, only the Sun Valley Wellness Festival received unanimous consent for all of the money requested when the council unanimously voted to give it $2,500.
On two occasions, Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe broke a tie between council members on festival funding votes. Councilors Michelle Griffith and Peter Hendricks voted in favor of funding the Sun Valley Film Festival and the Sun Valley Harvest Festival, while Keith Saks and Franz Suhadolnik voted against funding.
Briscoe broke the ties in favor of funding the full $5,000 Harvest Festival request, while giving the Sun Valley Film Festival $5,000, which was $1,000 less than requested.
On three occasions, council members said they had concerns about funding events that raise money for other charitable organizations. One of those events is Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a bike-racing competition that donates a portion of its funds to the Wood River Bike Coalition, PeopleForBikes.org and World Bicycle Relief.
“I applaud you for having this event during a very dire time right after the August fire,” Hendricks said. “I appreciate your local spin, but I have a philosophical problem with taxpayer money going through a conduit to charity. If I wanted my dollars to go to a charity, then I’d give it to them. I don’t need anyone else deciding where my dollars go.”
The council eventually decided to give Rebecca’s Private Idaho $3,000 out of the $5,000 requested, under the stipulation that all of the charitable contributions come solely from registrations fees for the race.
The last event to request funding was the Family of Woman Film Festival, which Sun Valley resident Peggy Goldwyn hosts in order to educate people on women’s issues all over the world.
Unfortunately for the festival, the council did not provide any funding because the festival’s proceeds go to the United Nations Population Fund, which conducts programs to help women all over the globe.
“I have a philosophical problem with taxpayer money going through a conduit to charity.”
Sun Valley councilman
“A local resident called me and was very opposed to us spending on your organization,” Suhadolnik said to Goldwyn during the meeting. “He cited that organizations we fund should be non-partisan, non-political and non-sectarian. I question the event and the event’s funding.”
Goldwyn took exception to Suhadolnik’s remarks.
“The funds from this festival go towards education,” Goldwyn said. “I only pick the best films that establish the status of women and girls throughout the world.
“What’s not spent on the festival itself is spent on materials showing that education makes a difference. We are not lobbying for any political point of view; we’re talking about the status of girls.”
Before deciding they would not support the festival, Councilors Saks, Suhadolnik and Hendricks each agreed that the festival was trying to promote a political agenda, while Griffith suggested the festival was big enough to be self-sustaining.
“I think you have enough momentum to stand on your own,” Griffith said. “If you could structure this event to keep the money locally and further your mission of education, I would be very supportive.”
When $2,500 was requested to advertise the festival, the agenda item died after council members failed to put forth a motion for funding.