Nonprofits feel sting of the city's budget cuts

May 09, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

The Community Action Council's executive director on Thursday said his agency will face financial problems if the Hagerstown City Council approves a plan to reduce funding for nonprofits by about 25 percent a year for the next four years.

A reduction in the amount of federal Community Development Block Grant money the city would give the nonprofit agency would make it more difficult to provide services to people needing housing assistance or who have a one-time crisis, such as a loss of electricity, David Jordan, CAC's executive director, said Thursday.

The City Council is scheduled to examine funding for block grant recipients, including CAC's, as part of its May 13 Hagerstown City Council work session, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said Thursday.


The city is considering limiting to five the number of years some nonprofit groups, including CAC, can get Block Grant funding.

The proposal by George Andreve, manager of the Hagerstown Community Development Department, would make it easier for the city to have Block Grant funds available should a new request come in from a deserving agency, he said.

The change would start with the proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The proposal would exempt groups that the city decides are "critical" to the community and those for which funding is necessary to assure the agency's future operation.

In a report, Andreve proposed the city consider as "critical" those groups "that provide direct housing, medical and like assistance to low- and moderate-income residents of Hagerstown."

He suggests the funding of agencies not meeting that criteria be reduced by 25 percent per year over the next four years.

Andreve on Thursday said he could not yet say what other groups besides the Community Action Council would face funding reductions as a result of the proposed change. A memo he was preparing for the council's meeting next Tuesday would include that information, he said.

Community Action Council requested $50,000 for a crisis intervention program to help needy people who meet certain criteria when they lose electricity or face other sudden problems, Jordan said. Under the city's proposed budget, the group would get $40,000, he said.

Under the proposed budget, a request for $10,000 for a housing counseling program to help people who meet certain criteria find new housing would be reduced to about $8,000, he said.

The money CAC gets from the city is used as matching funds for other state and federal grants, Jordan said. As a result, a $12,000 reduction could cost the agency closer to $24,000, he said.

The group gets about $160,000 from the Washington County Commissioners but Jordan said he does not think the county can afford to increase its funding.

Jordan said he considers the services the Community Action Council provides to be critical.

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