Salem Town Board supports The Sharing Center with $5,000

The Salem Town Board will be sending $5,000 to The Sharing Center, categorizing it as a purchase of services rather than a donation in order to wiggle through a legal loophole about donations that came to light at the regular monthly Town Board meeting.

Lynn Biese, The Sharing Center executive director, made the appeal for the funds to help close a $15,000 shortfall the agency anticipates for the current year.

Biese said she will be visiting each Western Kenosha County municipality to ask for funding to address the shortfall. As Salem addresses represent 59 percent of the center’s clientele, the town was asked for the largest donation. Each oif the other municipalities will be asked to donate $1,500.

The Sharing Center is a Paddock Lake-based relief agency providing food and other emergency and support services.

Biese presented some grim facts and figures to illustrate the worsening state of the local economy and consequently increased needs for the center’s services:

  • The center serves about 300 families a month.
  • Demand for the center’s services has increased about 600 percent over the last three years.
  • The center starts about 25 new families as clients each month.
  • While demand for services is up, donations are down.

Local municipalities have not been solicited by the center for support in the past. However, such support is important to be able to show the state and foundations when the center seeks funding, Biese said.

Earlier in the meeting, the board learned from its legal counsel that donations to charities should be approved by the electors at town meetings. However, town administrator Patrick Casey suggested that the town could purchase services on behalf of its citizens from such group with board approval.

The board voted to give $500 to the Twin Lakes Area Senior Citizens also as a purchase of services at the same meeting. It is believed about 50 residents regularly use that center’s services.



  1. Darrel Damon says:

    In other words, let’s not really let the electors decide where and how the money goes. Let’s use legal loopholes to bypass the intent.

    I’m not against donations, but I AM against using loopholes to bypass an obvious check and balance. The action speaks volumes about what the board thinks of the electors in the town.

  2. Paula Hollandsworth says:

    I think appalled about completely covers it after reading this article. Appalled that Pat Casey would even suggest a “way around” getting the electors approval. Appalled that the board would even consider that possibility. Appalled that when all was said and done that they passed the motion. Having been a director of a charitable organization, I know that the support of the community is definitely something that they need. I just think that perhaps a special meeting should of been considered instead of trying to push one over on us. It just sounds like dirty politics when someone makes suggestions to “get around” guidelines that govern a town board.

  3. John Capra says:

    I am all for donating too, but that is my personal choice, and my choice who I donte to, not for my local government to decide how to donate my tax dollars. I am equally dissapointed in the way they went about doing this, the “workaround” undermines the integrity of this board.

    Sharing Center has a level of responsibility here to, I am sure they need the funds to remain solvent, but I am sure there are alot of Salem families that could use $5K from our town.

    Integrity first!

  4. reluctant commenter says:

    It’s a completely legitimate government function to help people that need some relief. Salem has chosen to do this by supporting The Sharing Center rather than providing the relief themselves, which undoubtedly would be more expensive. Government is about pooling resources for the greater good. Helping down and out folks through a rough patch is a completely legitimate use of tax dollars — especially just $5,000! I also think the writer of this post was a little sloppy with the use of the term loophole. It was not a quirk of a single law that was utilized here. It was applying the correct perspective for what this money was actually being used for — purchasing services for residents that the town might otherwise feel it necessary to provide themselves.

  5. Paula Hollandsworth says:

    I am not against supporting any charitable organization with my own help from my own pocket book. It should be my choice though where those dollars go. What next? I am sure that there are other charitable organizations out there in our area that could use a helping hand from the town board by loopholing it around the regulations from the electors. What about the animal shelters? They provide an invaluable service as well. Perhaps they need five thousand dollars. What about the charitable organizations that help out the homeless by making sure there is a place for them to stay? Perhaps they need five thousand dollars. I just think that the board opened themselves up to what could lead to a landslide of charitable organizations saying they need help so please accept our services as well for say… five thousand dollars. Wonder if the board ever thought that far in advance before making such a decision?

  6. Darrel Damon says:

    Reluctant – I’m afraid that you missed the point that the earlier posters were trying to make. We are not against donations. We are against how it was done. I don’t think the writer was sloppy with the use of the word “loophole”. That is EXACTLY what it is. If it looks like a donation and smells like a donation, it is a donation, not a purchase. I disagree that the town is obligated to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves. That is precisely why the approval of electors was put in place – so that the body of electors as a whole can decide that question. The right of the electors to decide where the money goes was usurped, plain and simple. Are you really defending the practice of the town administrator and the board figuring out how to get around rules and regulations that were put in place to avoid obvious checks and balances? If the town board wants to make a donation to a charity, fine and good. Let’s do it in accordance with accepted procedures, not via creative bookkeeping. If we are giving tax money to charities, I for one would like the tax benefit associated with said charitable donations, not someone deciding for me that it is “for the greater good”. When the town budget has excess money available, let’s go for it. With the shortfalls, sending even more money to places that electors have no say in is just poor governance.

  7. reluctant commenter says:

    Darrel — I didn’t miss your point. I just disagree with it.

  8. Darrel Damon says:

    So, reluctant, you think it is perfectly alright for the town board and administrator to engage in creative bookkeeping and that the electors should not have a voice in this decision?

  9. reluctant commenter says:

    Darrel, try stating your question without loaded terms like “creative bookkeeping.” I stated I think it is a legit function of local government to lift up the worst off among us, especially as temporary relief. Buying such service from The Sharing Center is likely a cost effective and efficient way to do this. As for elector input, well they elect those town board members, don’t they? And those town board members hire the administrator. This is not to mention that the electors could run for office themselves. They are not without a voice at all!

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