City funds can be used for volunteer appreciation event

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City funds can be used for volunteer appreciation event. Council members will learn this week that this is the opinion of City Attorney Doug Nesvig who was asked to research the issue last month.

City of Gaylord leaders hosted a volunteer appreciation event at the park last year. Pork sandwiches, hot dogs, chips and a beverage were served to those who volunteered their services to the City. The event cost the City approximately $800.

Council member Dale Breuer, on May 16th, asked if the City Council was interested in hosting another event this year.

Council president Brenda Pautsch suggested that Nesvig verify if the City can finance such an event.

After researching the issue, Nesvig stated that it is his opinion that a volunteer appreciation event is a proper expenditure of City funds.

Nesvig analyzed public purpose and authority when researching Pautsch’s question. According to Nesvig, it is clear that the volunteer appreciation event passes the public purpose test because it benefits the whole community and is directly related to the functions of government. It promotes the productivity and job satisfaction of the volunteers which in turn has a positive effect on recruiting and retaining volunteers, he explained.

According to Nesvig, there must be specific or implied authority for the expenditure. It is his opinion that there is implied authority in this case because the volunteers are doing work that could be paid for by the City. The event could be looked at as a form of compensation for work done, Nesvig explained.

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