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Rohnert Park considers ‘foundation’ to fund some services

By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Rohnert Park is considering an unusual way to pay for some city services.

Interim Assistant City Manager John Dunn has proposed that the city, which faces a $1 million budget deficit, start a foundation to raise money for city events such as the city’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebration.

“It’s really another kind of innovative way to look at city government in the present and future circumstances where revenues are going to be much more restricted than in the past,” Dunn said.

He said that funding cultural programs would likely be the foundation’s focus rather than basic city services. But he said recreation, traditionally funded largely by the city’s general fund, might also benefit.

In a report to the council, which will consider the idea Tuesday night, Dunn acknowledges that it is an uncommon approach.

There are two chief reason for that, he said.

First, citizens have the perception that “government has or should have all the money it needs through taxes and other compulsory means of collection,” he said. Second, people need to be sure that what they contribute goes to its intended purpose and not mixed with other city funds.

If the first perception can be changed and the second concern assuaged, the foundation might gain traction as a way for citizens to support the community, he said.

“The city can no longer go it alone,” he said.

The concept is not entirely new for Rohnert Park, which turned to private citizens to build an endowment for Dorothy Spreckels Performing Arts Center. A similar idea several years ago didn’t make it off the drawing board.

Councilwoman Pam Stafford suggested Monday that a foundation might have a range of goals, depending on what residents want. “It might be recreation, it might be lights in the park,” she said. “If people want to do something like that, this program’s a good way to do it.”

Dunn, in his report, cites as a potential model Fountain Valley, an Orange County city of roughly the same size and median household income as Rohnert Park, that started a city foundation in 2008. Fountain Valley officials did not return calls Monday seeking comment.

Dunn said that outside recreation, the foundation would be unlikely to contribute to the types of services that are generally thought of as being under the city’s purview, such as police and fire services or planning functions.

“At this time hard and fast rules have not been set up, but as a general principle it would not be used to support the general operations of the city government,” he said.

Cotati, the city’s far smaller neighbor, has funded its police K-9 unit, not including the officer’s costs, for about five years with citizen donations. K-9 officer Chris Kaupe said a new round of fundraising letters just went out, and that donations have traditionally come from not only Cotati but around the county.

The dog, Koda, costs about $6,500 a year to maintain, Kaupe said.





12 Responses to “Rohnert Park considers ‘foundation’ to fund some services”

  1. Chris says:

    I think Rohnert Park should have Rohnert Park days…have a fair out in the open area’s of Rohnert Park. Charge for vendors to come in and charge for people to park and enter the fair. yes, it will cost money to start, however I hope it would generate enough money to exceed that amount and put more money in the coffers.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  2. Greg Karraker says:

    It speaks volumes that Cotati will squander thousands of dollars on cutesy water conservation mailers, and even more to help citizens buy each other trendy lawns, but won’t spend a dime of its taxpayers’ money on something as valuable as a police dog. For that, citizens are expected to have bingo nights, or sell Police Dog Cookies.

    This inexcusable behavior is commonplace in Cotati, but it’s sad to see it creep north and spread the same malaise in Rohnert Park.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. Graeme Wellington says:

    I see that Mr. Hudson is still making the claim that the newspaper clipping proves his point. He knows all about the bank records and the forensic accountant’s report yet is still trying to manipulate people by repeating a big lie over and over just like Goebbels advised.

    Some things Rohnert Park can be legitimately criticized about. The city hall being one such valid criticism. However, Hudson’s 40 year track record of making accusations and never proving them and then blithely going on to make more and more accusations pretending he’s never been wrong every time before is likewise a point to legitimately consider.

    My earlier point is still valid. If Rohnert Park needs a charitable foundation to provide a “city service,” then obviously that is a service the city should not be going into a financial hole to provide.

    Rohnert Park’s leadership is as blithely oblivious to obvious solutions as Hudson is to logic, reason and evidence.

    Everyone needs to keep in mind that people are attempting to manipulate you. Rohnert Park’s leaders are trying to manipulate you with guilt to get you to support charity so they don’t have to be charitable at public expense.

    Rohnert Park’s leaders are trying to manipulate the police union with the proposal to contract out to the sheriff’s office.

    Hudson is trying to manipulate you with vivid accusations to further his grudges against Rohnert Park.

    The newspaper is trying to manipulate you into believing they are reporting a news story when in reality they are trying to influence your opinion of Rohnert Park negatively.

    The only person being straight with you is me. Yes, I realize many of you disagree with me on general principle no matter what I post. You’re only human. You have your reasons – irrational as they may be. But take a step back and think objectively about it. I’ve been right every time, haven’t I? Consider that gentle readers.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  4. paying attention says:

    Unbelievable!

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. John Hudson says:

    The public schools are owned and operated by the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. This is a separate public entity that is also run by fiscally irresponsible people.

    Of course, the City of Rohnert Park has a city council that has not uttered one word of criticism for the expenditure of $8.5 million on a new city hall that nobody outside city government wanted.

    The city council continues to cry that Measure L sewer rate roll back is bankrupting the city after publishing a financial statement in the November 12, 2010 edition of The Community Voice that reports that the City of Rohnert Park had $2,017,431 in “excess revenues from public utilities. You can see that financial statement as Document Number 3 at http://www.rpucc.org

    The RP city council has never uttered one word of criticism of the city’s accounting department.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  6. Stop Renaming Schools says:

    Stop spending $30,000 to rename a school and then you’ll have my ear.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  7. Graeme Wellington says:

    If you have to or need a charitable organization to fund some city services — take a hint. Stop providing those services. Seems people only “want” the service is someone provides it for free.

    Rohnert Park and all government is taxing too much and providing too much “service.” Tax less and keep expenses to those things ONLY government can provide.

    The Rec Center is a good example. You’re telling me that a commercial entity could not take that over and make money?

    The “leaders” in Rohnert Park are just concerned with re-election and simply cannot do their jobs or make any decisions.

    Cut expenses by eliminating the stuff you want to pay for with charity. Let’s see how much people really want a “city service.” People only want it if it’s free. GET A CLUE ROHNERT PARK “LEADERSHIP!”

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  8. John Hudson says:

    The responses here are all appropriately cynical. There is a pecking order in Rohnert Park established by who exercises political power. At the top are the developers. They get whatever they want and can force existing residents to pay for their cost of doing business, usually in the form of sewer and water infrastructure. In the case of Codding, redevelopment money as a gift. Below them are the public employees. they are far better compensated for less work than the average Joe in the private sector. At the bottom of the heap are the ordinary residents.

    At least a “Community Foundation” cannot tax you or charge a fee.

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  9. Dea Tea says:

    And what percentage of this “foundation” is going to be given to an individual(s) whom do nothing but sit on their behinds and do nothing on their computers..?… I know ALL about “community foundations” and “non-profits”….

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  10. The Hammer says:

    They are going to con you out of your money one way or another.

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  11. 0 Representation says:

    And I ask you Mr. Dunn, just how you think the city is going it alone? WAKE UP! I can’t believe we are paying for TWO city managers. My recommendation is to let you go Mr. Dunn. That alone will save US the taxpayers of this city a lot of money. Go home Mr. Dunn. Your time is up here. Quit wasting our money and our time.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  12. Alex says:

    Is it me or does Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park begin to feel like Valljo West?

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

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