Case: The association “Together for our Youth Council” (fictional name) has been cooperating with decision-makers from the local municipality for several years to support the activities of the youth council. The association received a grant every year from the so-called small grants scheme (based on Article 19a of the Act on Public Benefit and Volunteer Work) for the purpose of increasing the civic and social competencies of the youth council members. However, due to a change in regulations and the addition of a provision stating that the administrative and office support for the youth council will be provided by the municipal office, the association did not receive this year’s grant.
- Can the association apply for funding from the small grants scheme under Article 19a of the Act on Public Benefit and Volunteer Work?
- Does the wording of Article 5b(15) of the Act on Local Government prevent the municipality from financing the association’s previous activities?
Response of IREPSO:
Article 5b, paragraph 15 of the Act on Local Government provides that “the administrative and office support for the youth council of the municipality is provided by the municipality office. The costs of supporting the youth council are covered by the municipality office.” This provision obliges the municipality office to provide organizational support to the youth council, but only in matters of organizational and administrative nature. Although the doctrine has not defined what “administrative and office support” means, it can be clearly indicated that training or educational activities for the youth council do not fall within the linguistic definitions of “administrative” or “office” functions. Therefore, the legislator wanted the municipality office to provide organizational and substantive support to the youth council regarding, for example, organizing sessions, meetings of committees or working groups, or preparing resolutions. Thus, the obligation of the municipality office is limited only to administrative and office support necessary for the operation of the youth council.
Therefore, non-governmental organizations that want to provide training to increase the competences of members of youth councils or organize other events for these bodies can still apply for grants for these purposes from the municipality, county, or voivodship, based on Article 19a of the Act on Public Benefit and Volunteer Work. Also, Article 5b, paragraph 15 of the Act on Local Government does not prevent a local government unit from organizing a competition for non-governmental organizations for training or educational activities for members of the youth council.
In summary, the legal norms of Article 19a of the Act on Public Benefit and Volunteer Work and Article 5b, paragraph 15 of the Act on Local Government are independent of each other in the case where a grant for a non-governmental organization concerns activities for youth councils beyond necessary administrative and office activities. Therefore, the justification for not granting subsidies for educational activities for members of the youth council based on the content of Article 5b, paragraph 15 of the Act on Local Government is greatly incorrect.
Moreover, it is recommended that the municipality authorities, the youth council, and local non-governmental organizations collaborate as much as possible, thereby increasing the possibilities of actions within this “triangle” of entities. Financing initiatives of non-governmental organizations towards youth councils is an action that is indicated and fits in with the goals of functioning active civil society.