Can Public Resources Be Used for Gifts and Charity?

The spending of agencies has become increasingly monitored due to the recent challenges that the economy faces. This holds true especially for public resources since they come directly from taxpayer’s money and the taxpayers often feel that this money belongs to someone else. 

Problems With Gifts from Public Agencies

Public resources can include money, equipment, staff, and material. A company might sometimes decide to make ‘gifts’ in order to promote the company image. In California, however, according to Western Cities, ‘gifts’ are specifically prohibited, including gifts from company officials. This ban is valid for the whole state of California, excluding charter cities, although most charter cities also prohibit gift-giving. A way to check if the charity or gift bypasses the prohibitions is to measure whether it fulfills public needs. It is important to remember that some districts have additional bans on spending, making sure that the expenditures are complementary to the needs of the particular district. 

Use of Public Resources

The best way to utilize public resources is to make sure that their use complies with the agency’s policies. These policies can prove the benefits of the way it uses public resources.

Charity and Donations

The ban on ‘gifts’ is also applicable to charity and donations. Public agencies cannot contribute to charity organizations unless the charity provides a service that is common or helpful to the one provided by the public agency, when there is a benefit to the public agency, or when the charity provides a service which is compatible with the public agency’s agenda. 

Support and Consultation 

The best solution in any particular case is to turn to our Palm Springs municipal law firm, which has a full-service public agency in Palm Springs, California. It can help advise and consults public officials on any complex and frequently changing laws in the local government, pertaining to the use of their public resources.