Pickerington Times-Sun

Council nixes church's request for donation of city pool pass

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Pickerington City Council mulled over the propriety of donating a city pool pass to a religious organization at its Sept. 4 meeting.

At issue was the donation of one Pickerington Community Pool pass for the 2013 season to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish to be included as an item to be auctioned off at the church's annual parish festival.

The city's website indicates the value of such an item, if purchased, ranges from $160 to $210, depending on the purchaser's residency status.

Councilman Jeff Fix moved to authorize City Manager Bill Vance to donate the item and cited the goodwill that such a philanthropic gesture would generate as being beneficial to the city.

"It is an opportunity to provide positive goodwill for the city as part of the community by giving away something that costs us nothing," Fix said.

"There is no hard cost to the city. I understand it opens up an opportunity for other charitable organizations to ask for something similar," he said.

"I see a benefit to that, I don't see a downside," Fix said.

Councilman Brian Sauer said such a donation was a city resource and as such it was inappropriate to be given to a religious organization.

"As a practicing Catholic, I fully support my church, however, this is a private matter," Sauer said.

"As government representatives, we have a duty with regard to resident tax dollars," he said.

Sauer added although the city did donate to non-profit organizations such as Tyler's Light and the Lancaster Transit System, he said those entities benefit the entire community.

"I don't think it's appropriate to (give) charitable resources to a church," Sauer said.

The motion failed by a 4-2 vote of council, with Fix and Councilman Gavin Blair providing the only "yes" votes.

The next Pickerington City Council meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18.

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