The Columbia Council is finding it hard to give money away.
The council has been unable to find a grant proposal worthy of approving for its new community service program for high school students, prompting one council member to question whether the program can work.
At its meeting last week, the council rejected the first application it considered for the program -- which is intended to provide "seed money" to high school students for projects that benefit Columbia -- because the proposal didn't meet the program's goals.
The council received only three applications from Columbia-area high school students by its October deadline for four $250 grants the council has established in this year's budget.
"I'm concerned about the viability of the entire program, given that response," said Councilman Michael Rethman of Hickory Ridge.
The council voted not to grant $250 to help a group of Centennial High School students raise money to provide six needy families with items for the holiday season, such as clothing, toys, food and Christmas trees.
Council members said the proposal, though commendable, seemed more like charity fund raising than a community service project. They questioned using Columbia Association money essentially for gifts.
"This is not in the public policy domain," said Councilwoman Suzanne S. Waller of Town Center.