City of Aspen makes exception for sheriff; gives $10k to golf tourney
Aspen City Council made an exception for the sheriff of Pitkin County on Tuesday night when it gave him a $10,000 donation for his upcoming golf fundraiser.
Council members agreed to take the money out of the city’s general fund and apply it toward the costs of the Sheriff’s Cup, an annual golf tournament that this year is benefiting Huts for Vets.
Normally the city of Aspen funds various nonprofits through a formal grant process that occurs at the same time each year. The heads of those nonprofits apply and a citizen board decides whether to grant their requests.
But Sheriff Joe DiSalvo didn’t go that route this year and neither did Paul Andersen, founder of Huts for Vets, a nonprofit that focuses on wilderness therapy for veterans.
DiSalvo had originally asked for a waiver of the $10,000 fee to use the course June 24, which is during peak season. Historically, outside events are not allowed from mid-June through mid-September because revenue can be as much as $13,000 a day, according to a memo from Jeff Woods, manager of parks and recreation for the city.
DiSalvo withdrew his request to waive the course rental fee and instead asked for cash so all of the proceeds from the event can go to Huts for Vets. The cost to put on the event is estimated to be between $15,000 and $20,000, which includes the course fee.
Council members struggled with giving the money because it’s a challenge for elected officials to decide which nonprofit is more deserving than the next.
Mayor Steve Skadron noted there are 250 nonprofits in the uppervalley, and the city’s various parks could be rented out every day in the summer for events if there wasn’t a limit.
“We have to be fair to all nonprofits that come before us,” he said.
Councilman Ward Hauenstein said of the nine months he’s been on the board, Tuesday’s decision was the one he regretted having to make. But he supported the donation nevertheless.
“It puts us in a situation of having to pick and choose between nonprofits,” he said.
All five council members reluctantly approved of the donation but asked DiSalvo to go through the formal process in the future. DiSalvo said he would. He told council that he was under the impression from city staff that last year’s tournament benefiting suicide prevention was so successful that the course rental fee would likely be waived.
He said he understood the difficulty council faced and appreciated the consideration.
“This may not be popular but it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I won’t let you down.”
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