Provide Your Views as the City Council Reconsiders Community Grants

At its September 1 meeting the City Council voted to table until a future meeting the staff report that compares Coronado’’s community grant program to the programs of other communities. The report was prepared in response to a May 19 request by the City Council. The request was made in the context of the Council’’s consideration of the community grant program for FY 2015/16. The Council went on to approve $1,347,250 in grants for the current fiscal year, an increase of 4.6 percent over last year.

Grant RecipientGrant ($)Recipient’s Total Budget ($)

Grant as % of Total Budget

Coronado Historical Association




Coronado Healthy Children’s Initiative




Coronado SAFE (Student and Family Enrichment)




Coronado Chamber of Commerce




Coronado Main Street




Lamb’s Players Theater




Coronado Island Film Festival




Coronado Floral Association




Coronado Senior Association




Coronado Playhouse




Coronado 4th of July, Inc.




Camp Able at Coronado




Coronado Community Band




US Navy League Sea Cadet Program




Coronado Memorial Day Committee




Miss Coronado Pageant




Source: FY 16 Community Organization Grants-Approved, As of June 16, 2015

The city staff queried other cities in California via the League of California Cities. The Staff also contacted all of the cities in San Diego County. Each jurisdiction was asked to indicate how much it provides in grants from its General Fund in the areas of the arts, economic development and/or social services. In-kind support such as waived permit fees was excluded as well as grants from non-General Fund sources. Information was collected from 39 cities.

Excluding the City of San Diego, which dedicates a portion of its Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) for “Special Promotional Programs,” Coronado awards substantially more in community grants than any of the other communities. After Coronado, Hayward awarded $535,455 in grants. Hayward is a city of 145,165 located in the San Francisco Bay area. Its General Fund budget was $127,482,000 in FY 2104 and its proposed General Fund budget in FY 2015 is $132,748,000. By comparison Coronado’’s General Fund budget for FY 2015/16 is $45,873,000. The total amount of grants awarded by other cities ranged from nothing to $365,000 and averaged approximately $75,000. In FY 2015/16 Coronado awarded six grants that exceeded this average. The largest was $381,350, which is over five times the average of the total amount granted annually by other cities.

As a percentage of the city’’s General Fund, Coronado is also in a class by itself. Its grants in FY 2015/16 constitute approximately three percent of its General Fund. Only three other cities, again excluding the City of San Diego, devote more than one percent of their General Fund to community grants: Capitola, slightly over two percent; Jackson, just over one percent; and Truckee, 1.5 percent. Of the remaining 34 cities, 33 allocate less than one half of one percent and one, Del Mar, just over that percentage.

A point made in the staff report is that providing public funds as a gift is illegal. Public funds cannot be given away. However, the report states that “courts have determined that City Councils can make expenditures of public funds if they serve a public purpose pursuant to a bona fide contract with adequate public value.” The contracts that Coronado has awarded in support of the grants that it made this fiscal year have been requested and will be the subject of future articles.

Before the City Council takes up the staff report, you are invited to provide your input via the survey at

The results of the survey will be reported in eCoronado. Before completing the survey you may want to review eCoronado’’s previous stories on the subject of community grants. Coronado’s Community Grant Program More Generous Than That of Other Jurisdictions, published on May 15, provided a comparison of Coronado’’s grant program to those of other cities and a digest of the grants that were requested in FY 2015/16. The second story, Coronado Poised to Approve Over $1 Million in Community Grants, published on May 9, provided background on the city’’s community grant program.


John Tato
Staff Writer


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John was born and raised in Coronado. He graduated from Coronado High School in 1965. He received a Bachelor of Arts with a major in architecture and a Master of Architecture degree from Stanford University. In 2005 he retired from the U.S. Department of State but continues to serve as a consultant to the department.He is a member of the Coronado Transportation Commission. John also volunteers with the San Diego Human Society and County Animal Shelters. He and his wife, Barbara, who is retired from the Central Intelligence Agency, have two sons: Army Captain John W. Tato who is serving with the First Special Forces Group (Airborne) and Navy Ensign Michael R. Tato who is in flight training with VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: