Diversity Commission makes request for funding from the City

great dealThe City of Lynnwood’s Neighborhoods and Demographic Diversity Commission likely will receive some much needed money from the City in order to fund community events.

It just may take a while.

Diversity Commission Chair Rosamaria Graziani made a budget request for $9,000 and Council Vice-President Ian Cotton formally introduced the proposal during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

After a discussion that focused mainly on procedural issues, the Council decided to have the issue brought back to a work session and then move it forward to a business meeting.

The work of the Diversity Commission drew praise from Councilmembers.

“Everyone appreciates the Diversity Commission and the work they do,” Councilmember Sid Roberts said.

Councilmember M. Christopher Boyer indicated he was 100 percent in favor of providing funds to the commission. Boyer, however, preferred the request for the budget modification for 2015-16 budget go through the normal process in which the issue is first brought to a work session and then acted upon during a subsequent business/regular meeting.

Councilmember Benjamin Goodwin agreed that the idea was fantastic but noted that “we got it tonight and we haven’t discussed it thoroughly as a council.”

Graziani said she was speaking on behalf of Diversity Commission and that the Commissioners had approved what she had to say.

The Diversity Commission has held two events this year – a Black History Month celebration at the Lynnwood Fire Station and a Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Lynnwood Senior Center. Graziani said that the Commissioners had to pick up some of the costs for the Black History event because of the commission’s lack of a budget.

“We were happy to do that because we wanted to create a welcoming environment for the community, but it shouldn’t be that way,” Graziani said.

The Diversity Commission was created by ordinance in 2004 and initially had a budget of $60,000, Graziani said.  “At present, we have absolutely no budget,” she said. “It’s difficult to understand why there is no budget now because, even in the worst of the recession, the City found around $5,000 to fund the Diversity Commission’s events.”

The mission of the Diversity Commission, Graziani said, was approved by City ordinance and its duties include sponsoring citywide neighborhood and community events, including opportunities for heritage and cultural events.

The breakdown of the $9,000 budget request was:

– $3,000 for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. event at the Lynnwood Convention Center. The venue would be free under one of the City’s free use days. Set-up costs are $3,000. The City did not host the event in 2014.

– $3,000 to hold three events at the Lynnwood Fire Station during the winter months. The Black History Month Celebration was an example of such an event.

– $3,000 for six quarterly townhall/community lecture meetings. The Holocaust Remembrance Day event was an example of an event.

Graziani said that the Diversity Commission Members donate about 1,000 volunteer hours.

“We just want you to help us fulfill our mission and work hard for the City we all love,” Graziani said.

Another issue for some Councilmembers is that they wanted it on record that the Diversity Commission took a formal vote on the proposal presented. Graziani said that the vote likely would take place at the commission’s next meeting, which is scheduled for June 9.

Since the money would have come from the Executive Department’s budget, both City Council President Loren Simmonds and Mayor Nicola Smith requested that City staff be involved in the process.

Smith added that she is in the process of creating a policy where all of the City’s Boards and Commissions have a way to access the Executive Department’s Community Initiatives fund, which is $200,000.

Several residents spoke in favor of the budget proposal and in support of Graziani.

“We cannot be an effective commission without a budget,” said Diversity Commission Member Pining Reyes. “Events that connect the City with our citizens are very important.”

– By David Pan

A number of residents spoke out in favor of the City funding the Diversity Commission during Tuesday's City Council meeting.
A number of residents spoke out in favor of the City providing funds to the Diversity Commission during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

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