Donation from Valley Grande to Sav-A-Life on hold

Published 5:35 pm Wednesday, March 26, 2014

VALLEY GRANDE — A $5,000 donation from the Valley Grande City Council to the Selma-Dallas County Sav-A-Life Crisis Pregnancy Center is on hold while the council waits for legal approval to make the contribution from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

Mayor Wayne Labbe said while the delay is unfortunate, it was far from unexpected.

“When we voted to give the donation to Sav-A-Life, we knew we were going to need an opinion from the Attorney General to make sure, because there was a gray area in the law, and we wanted to be sure it was OK to do that,” Labbe said.

He said the donation to Sav-A-Life could be in question because Sav-A-Life is a faith-based organization.

“Sav-A-Life is a Christian organization and we have to be careful when we donate taxpayer’s money to different organizations,” Labbe said. “And this is just a gray area we have to check in to.”

Labbe said this would not be the first time the city sought an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office. The city previously sought an opinion when a local church sponsored the city’s youth sports league. Labbe said that impacted the way the city was able to provide financial support for the league.

“With the sports league, they determined we could not donate to a church or Christian organization like that, so what we had to do is have the balls and bats belong to the city, and we would let them use them, just like we let them use the park,” Labbe said. “We have to have very definite guidelines when we do things like that.”

During a council meeting in early February, the council voted unanimously to give the $5,000 to Sav-A-Life during the organization’s annual bass tournament fundraiser, which was held on Saturday, March 22 at the Selma Marina.

Even without the donation from the Valley Grande council, the event raised $18,000 for Sav-A-Life.

Jennifer Dobbs, executive director of the Selma-Dallas County Sav-A-Life, said she was still grateful for the gesture the council made by approving the donation and remains hopeful the donation will be approved by the AG.

“I know their hearts are in it and they are just waiting to figure out if this is something they can do,” Dobbs said of Mayor Labbe and the council members in Valley Grande.

Labbe said he was confident the Attorney General’s office would find the donation falls within existing legal boundaries, but if that was not the case, the council would have to look at other destinations for the money to be sent.

“If they tell us it is not OK, we’d have to go back and redistribute this money to other charities throughout the community,” Labbe said. “We just need the word from the Attorney General.”