If there is one thing that will destroy any organization or group, it is an over-inflated sense of entitlement. It’s something that can be hard to avoid, especially if that organization exists mostly in a bubble and struggles to see contrasting points of view. However, it is deadly for something like that to develop, and it is even more deadly to stand by idly as it expands. 

Recently, we have begun to worry that local groups in the City of Las Vegas have developed that sense of entitlement when it comes to funding from the city council, the group tasked with making the best decisions on behalf of the entire community. The attitude from many organizations seems to be that they are owed funding from the governing body, that it would be an insult for them to not sign over whatever funding is requested. And honestly, that is a dangerous precedent to set moving forward. 

When distributed properly, every contract between the city and local non-profit organizations should be earned. Realistic, sustainable goals should be set in a way that benefits both parties. The city and its residents should see local quality of life improve in some way, and the group should be able to improve itself through the various projects it agrees to complete in the contract. 

It should be expected that if projects and goals are not completed, the funding from the city will decrease, or potentially even disappear altogether. It should always be a give-and-take relationship. The more an organization helps the city, the more the city helps the organization. 

The expectation should be that any organization seeking city funding should be able to sustain itself, and use any funding from the city to do more. The city should never be solely responsible for keeping any organization afloat. If that’s the case, we would argue it’s probably not doing everything it needs to be doing to benefit the city providing it funding. 

There have been multiple examples this year of entitlement when it comes to non-profit contracts. However, the latest example came last week when the Samaritan House contract was up for renewal. We will always advocate for the homeless population in Las Vegas, along with all of its least fortunate citizens. We want the best for them, and that made last week’s presentation even more frustrating. 

Before receiving $59,000 from the city for the next six months, the representatives from the Samaritan House made it clear they could not continue proper operations without the city contract, which is one of its largest funding sources. While the city said in its contract it would like to see much more outreach done by the organization to help even more people in the community, the representatives said it needed more staff and resources to even make that possible. Their focus remains on keeping things orderly inside the shelter and, if things improve significantly, they will look to move outward. 

It is obvious the group needs help securing more funding from different sources. Otherwise, there won’t be much of a change. That needs to be the focus, because clearly the status quo is a struggle. Because of that, multiple city councilors questioned whether simply increasing their funding, up from $40,000, was the smartest use of city funds, or if it was simply a bandage on a bigger problem that needs to be explored. But when asking those questions, they were made to feel like the villains, both from the Samaritan House representatives and by Mayor Louie Trujillo, who said in the meeting he has worked closely with the Samaritan House for years. It is the city council’s job to ask those questions, because it is a substantial amount of money they are dealing with. 

Questions about how exactly the money would be used and whether it would go toward salaries or services, are valid. And they did not receive specific answers in response. Instead, they received a sheet outlining the services they provide for the homeless population, which everyone in attendance was well aware of. 

City councilors have a right to wonder whether an extra $20,000 in funding will lead to an equal amount of improvements in the city. If the city’s residents will receive the same services and the same quality of services, how is that $20,000 going to the best use?

But instead, they were made out to be villains for questioning additional funding to help the homeless population. And that’s really a shame. If the expectation is just for the city council to rubber stamp any contract put in front of them, whether it’s for local businesses or nonprofits, why have a city council at all? 

Hard questions need to be asked, and hard decisions need to be made. Maybe after asking hard questions, the city council realizes adjustments are needed, things need to be removed and funding needs to be altered. That is their job. 

Organizations shouldn’t be setting the price for the local government. The local government should be setting the price and the expectations for the organizations. And if they can’t meet those expectations, changes need to be made. No excuses. If you agree to do something with funding provided, you do it or you accept the consequences. It’s the way the world works in nearly every aspect of life. Why is this any different? 

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