Despite agreeing to fund a winter warming center for the homeless Thursday, Lacey City Council took issue with a number of matters related to that request.
Among them: The source of matching funds for the project and the 11th hour nature of the request.
“Winter comes every year,” said Councilman Lenny Greenstein, after he questioned why the funding request didn’t happen earlier in the year.
The center, proposed by the multifaith group Interfaith Works, is expected to operate from November to March 2017 and be open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, said City Manager Scott Spence.
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After 5 p.m., those using the center likely would transition to an emergency shelter, he said.
But the bigger issue for the council, which ultimately voted 5-1 — Councilman Michael Steadman was absent — in favor of contributing $15,600 to the center, was the source of funding proposed by Thurston County.
The county, according to a letter from Interfaith Works that was shared with the council, has pledged $40,000 of Community Investment Partnership dollars.
Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater will raise another $40,000, giving Interfaith Works $80,000 needed to open the center.
Except the council noted that the three cities already contribute to the Community Investment Partnership, so, in effect, Lacey was simply matching its own money.
“They’re matching our money with our money,” Greenstein said. “That’s absurd.”
Others on the council agreed.
Mayor Andy Ryder wondered why the county couldn’t simply source the money from its general fund.
He said it was “absolutely wrong” that the county use CIP dollars.
“I will begrudgingly support this as well,” he said about the warming center.
The CIP is a partnership between the county, the county’s three largest cities and the United Way of Thurston County.
In May, the partnership, which funds programs that address housing, health, child resilience and education, announced $4.7 million in funding.
Meanwhile, Jason Hearn voted against funding the center.
He acknowledged that the center will provide an important service, but he said the city should only be spending taxpayer dollars on essential city services.
He wondered if there was another way the city could help, such as contributing some marketing dollars to increase awareness about the warming center.
Hearn also offered to see if he could raise the money privately.
Ryder turned him down, citing the urgency of the request.
The council wasn’t done.
Although they agreed to move forward on Thursday, they still want to make sure all of the jurisdictions participate in the funding.
Spence said he will bring before the council an interlocal agreement or a contract with Interfaith Works that they can approve at a later date.