Editorial: Points Of Concern On A City Issue

At the last City of Dillon council meeting, a group called the Dillon Community Alliance appeared before council to make a proposal.
The Dillon Community Alliance is a new group of business owners, stakeholders, and interested citizens who want to work for the betterment of the city and who want to make Dillon the place to go in the Pee Dee Region. It is always a great thing when a city has citizens who want to make it a better place, and our county has been fortunate to have many groups working to make life better in various areas and aspects of our community. With the calibre of people on this committee, we expect that the Dillon Community Alliance will make a positive impact on the community.
With that being said, there were some areas of concern with their presentation. The alliance proposes to assume the responsibilities of the city’s facade grant program and take the burden off the city. If the city needs help with the operation of the facade grant program and wishes to turn over the responsibilities to some other group, then the city needs to go about this properly and advertise a Request for Proposals (RFP) since the Dillon Community Alliance would not be a sole source vendor. Certainly, the Dillon County Chamber of Commerce would be an established organization which may want to be a contender to handle the responsibilities of such a program, and there may be other groups who would like a chance to handle the program.
Another area of concern would be the change of the city’s contribution to 75 percent while the business owner’s contribution is only 25 percent. Currently, it is 50-50. While we understand the purpose of this is to attract more participation, we feel that any business owner serious about fixing up their property should be equal partners financially on any investment to improve their building. However, it was a great idea to limit how much could be spent on particular individual improvements so that more money would be available for more people.
The biggest concern, however, is that in order to get a city-funded facade grant the applicant would be required to join the Dillon Community Alliance at the business membership level of $150. No business or individual should be required to join a group to qualify for or to receive public funds. Just because other communities do it, doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right thing to do here. If the alliance wants to optionally offer their assistance for a fee or a membership for a business owner who feels he or she needs it, then that is a different story, but it shouldn’t be a requirement to get funds as there are some people quite capable of handling their own paperwork.
Again, this is to say nothing negative about the alliance in any way whatsoever, and their initiative in trying to do this is to be admired.
However, before the city enters into any type of agreement with the Dillon Community Alliance or any group, all organizations capable of providing such services should have the opportunity to submit a proposal. It may be that the Dillon Community Alliance is the only group that submits a proposal or that they are awarded the ability to do this after reviewing more than one proposal, but all should have an opportunity. Also, the city should decide whether or not membership in a particular group should be a requirement to receive public funds.
This proposal does bring up some issues that should be addressed in some way in a manner that is fair to everyone.