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City to receive association's budget

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UPPER VALLEY - Snoqualmie City Council members and Meadowbrook Farm Preservation Association (MFPA) President Mary Norton both remain confident that no money has ever been "lost" by the local conservancy group.

The City Council expressed concern at its Feb. 25 meeting that it had yet to see a budget for the association, and said it would not give any more money to the association until one was produced.

MFPA president Mary Norton admitted that the organization had never turned in an annual budget despite the fact it is required to do so under the North Bend and Snoqualmie interlocal agreement that helps fund the association.

"No [there has been no budget], that's basically my fault," Norton said. "It's always been on our list of things to do."

Snoqualmie City Council members said they started to rethink the annual amount they give the association, which this year was budgeted at $15,000, after they saw North Bend had cut its funding to $5,000.

A letter drafted by North Bend City Administrator Phil Messina said the city was cutting the amount because of budget concerns. North Bend has given the MFPA $55,000 since 1997 and has never received a budget either.

Norton said the informality of the relationship with the cities may be reflected in the attitudes toward the budget. She said that under the interlocal agreement, both cities were required to send representatives to the association's monthly meetings - something that only started to happen recently - and that neither North Bend nor Snoqualmie had ever approached her with questions about funding.

She said she has given the cities annual reports that include how much money has been spent and on what, but also said no formal budget was ever prepared.

The preservation association president said there should be little mystery, however, as to where the money has gone. Since the association is funded with specific money for specific projects, it is impossible to spend it without the cities' knowledge of where it goes.

The vast majority of the money the association receives does not come from the two cities. County, state and private grants constitute the bulk of the association's funding.

Norton planned to turn in a budget for 2001 and 2002 by Wednesday, March 6.

Snoqualmie City Council member and chairwoman of the Finance and Administrative Services Committee Marcia Korich said that although the lack of a budget raised questions, she has no doubt the association will continue to be a good partner with the city in its conservation efforts.

"They have done a great job," Korich said. "We just wanted to make sure we were on the same page when handing out money."

You can reach Ben Cape at (425) 888-2311, or e-mail him at ben.cape@

valleyrecord.com.

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