Councilman donates his city expense account to nonprofits The Chandler Arizonan

Councilman donates his city expense account to nonprofits

Councilman donates his city expense account to nonprofits
City News
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By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

Chandler Councilman Jeremy McClymonds has transferred nearly $5,000 of his city-funded expense account to a separate city fund that distributes money to local nonprofits.

In what was described as an “unusual” transfer of public funds, City Council authorized McClymonds to give away nearly all the funds he is allocated each year on personal expenses such as travel reimbursement.

Each member of the council is annually given $5,000 to spend on traveling expenditures or costs associated with their public duties. Any money a councilman doesn’t spend is rolled back over into the city’s general fund at the end of the fiscal year.

McClymonds, who is running for reelection this year, had $4,940 left in his expense account by the end of this month and decided to reallocate the funds to the city’s Neighborhood Resources Department.

That department contracts with several local nonprofits to provide community services.

The $4,940 will specifically be split between AZCEND, which operates a food bank in Chandler, and Chandler Men of Action’s back-to-school program.

“I felt it was vital to help these nonprofits,” McClymonds said. “I know this money will go to good work.”

The councilman said he was motivated to reallocate his personal funds after the city cut its funding to local charities by $500,000 due to the financial uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During these extraordinary times, McClymonds said, it seemed best to re-dedicate these unutilized funds for a greater purpose.

McClymonds, a self-described “fiscal conservative,” claims he typically tries not to utilize money out of his council fund to reimburse himself. Financial records show McClymonds used $60 this last year on attending Chamber of Commerce events.

The council’s other six members have used their personal funds at various levels. Each member is given a certain amount of discretion to spend these funds however and whenever they choose.

During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Councilman Mark Stewart spent $4,560 on attending various conferences and Chamber events – the highest amount utilized this last year by any member of the council.

Mayor Kevin Hartke spent $4,380 to attend conferences in Washington D.C., Houston and Tucson.

Other spending included: Vice Mayor Rene Lopez, $3,290; Councilman Matt Orlando, $2,960; Councilman Sam Huang, $1,390; and Councilman Terry Roe, $490. 

The $13,000 not spent by the six other council members will carry over into the 2020-2021 budget and drop back into the city’s General Fund.

The Neighborhood Resources Department has recently decided how it will divvy up $1.2 million of its general fund dollars among Chandler’s charities and nonprofits.

Fifty-two organizations applied for funding from the city – totaling nearly $2-million worth of requests. City officials decided not to recommend any funding for 12 of the applications.

The House and Human Services Commission reviews each application and discusses its merits before deciding how to carve up the $1.2 million.

Some of the organizations that did not receive funding this year include the Arizona Burn Foundation, Chandler Lacrosse Club, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, United Food Bank and the Young Entrepreneurship Foundation.

Public records show the city attempted to prioritize the Neighborhood Resources funding this year to target three population groups: basic needs, youth, special populations.

“Staff believe these funding recommendations will grant financial support to organizations that provide valuable services to Chandler residents and are responsive to the current needs of the Chandler community,” the Neighborhood Resources Department wrote in a memo.

Other applicants received sums smaller than requested and some organizations got allocations that were significantly lower than what they received last year.

Community Bridges Inc., which provides mental health services across the East Valley, was given $68,750 for the upcoming fiscal year to prevent its clients from becoming homeless. During the last fiscal year, the city doled out $110,000 for this service.

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