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Council members working to strengthen requirements on charitable solicitations Public hearing scheduled for Aug. 26

Friday August 15, 2003

Media Release
For Immediate Release

For Information Contact:
Jennifer F. Brislin
502.574.4137

Patrick H. Neely
502.574.1351

LOUISVILLE – It’s a common site on the roads – buckets are passed at intersections throughout Jefferson County. Drivers dig into their wallets for spare change for charity, then dodge the fund-raisers when the light turns green.

But are all the charities legitimate? Is the current ordinance sufficient to make sure people raising money and motorists are safe? Is there confusion with multiple organizations being at the same intersection?

Those are the issues that Councilwoman Julie Raque Adams, R-District 18, and Councilman Glen Stuckel, R-District 17, are investigating. They are working to draft an ordinance that monitors charitable solicitation at intersections – making it safe, fair and accountable.

“Right now, there isn’t enough oversight,” Adams said. “We must do more to ensure that the streets are safe and that the organizations collecting funds are legitimate. At the same time, we don’t want to burden charities with too much bureaucracy that would hamper them from raising money for good causes.”

The two Metro council members have met with several charities, safety officials and will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Aug. 26 in the council chambers at City Hall.

Before merger, the city didn’t have an ordinance dealing with charitable solicitation, so the county’s ordinance has taken effect, along with requirements in state statute.

Those laws require individuals to: be at least 16 years old, have signs and buckets clearly labeled,have an emergency flashing light or locate at a street light, place orange cones at the site, wear an orange vest and obtain a permit. Certain groups, such as churches and schools, are exempt.

There are some alarming holes in the laws, Stuckel said.

“Solicitations involving less than 10 people with a total fund-raising goal of less than $1,000 are exempt,” Stuckel said. “That means we have no way of knowing what the money would be used for. In addition, we do not currently track and manage which organizations are working in various intersection or even the same intersection.”

However, there are many legitimate charities that rely heavily on fund-raising at intersections. For example, 50 percent of the money for the Crusade For Children is raised when firefighters throughout the county pass the bucket at intersections.

This year, 280 organizations have received permits, and groups are rarely turned down.

Adams and Stuckel have been working with charities that rely on fund-raising at intersections as well as safety officials to draft workable solutions. They are focusing on three issues:

1. Safety: They want to ensure that fund-raisers and motorists are safe at the intersections. That may mean requiring an emergency light rather than just relying on a street light. In addition, solicitors should clear the roadway when the light turns green.

2. Legitimacy: To better assure motorists that the fund-raising efforts are worthwhile, several options are being discussed, including checking with the Secretary of State’s office to see if the organization is in good standing and strengthening the requirement on reporting how the money will be used.

3. Scheduling: Currently, exempted groups don’t have to apply for a permit, so there is no record of which intersections will be occupied. More than one group may show up at the same intersection. The solution could be to have exempted groups fill out an application, but waive the permit fee, which is currently $25.

“The biggest complaint we hear is that people aren’t adhering to the rules,” said Paul Barth, chief of the McMahan Fire Department and suburban fire department liaison for Metro Government. “They remain in the road after the light turns green. The other concern is about groups that aren’t legitimate. First and foremost, everyone needs to be safe. There are examples of people who aren’t following the current ordinance. It must be totally enforced.”

Sponsor(s)

Julie Raque Adams (R)  18
Glen Stuckel (R)  17