The 1980 - 81 study of the League of Women Voters of the Midland Area involved investigation of the acquisition of ear-marked funds or property for less than market value, henceforth referred to as gifts, by governmental bodies in Midland County. The 2014 review of this position added "bequests and donations" as examples of "gifts," and updated the position statement.
A defined procedure should be observed when any governmental body in Midland County considers whether a potential gift (e.g. bequest or donation) should be accepted by that body.
The procedure should be sufficiently publicized to insure widespread awareness of it. All potential gifts should be first offered to the appropriate elected governmental body. Sizable gifts of unrestricted cash or items without future costs, all gifts of real estate, and gifts whose future costs require budgetary adjustment should be accepted /rejected by the elected body. Gifts of real estate and/or those with future costs should be discussed, with adequate public notice and time for public comment, at two or more public meetings of the body prior to an acceptance/rejection vote.
The following information should be available to decision makers and to the public at the time the matter is before the elected body:
1. Effect on tax rolls and/or millage;
2. Proposed uses (general public, segments of the public, possible admission or user fees);
3. Costs of utilities and maintenance for proposed uses;
4. Remodeling/reconstruction/development costs; equipment costs;
5. Wishes of donor;
6. Location, impact on surrounding area;
7. Cost/benefit analysis.
Rigid guidelines for acceptance/rejection of potential gifts are inappropriate. Each gift should be considered independently and its economic justification carefully weighed the public at the time the matter is before
the elected body: