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Jenny Fleming and Brad Sell: County funds in jeopardy

October 03, 2012|By JENNY FLEMING and BRAD SELL

The United Way and Community Foundation of Washington County are submitting monthly editorials to keep the Strategic Community Impact Plan (SCIP) process in the forefront of the minds of those in our community and to report on progress that is being made towards the SCIP goals.

We wanted to share with you a situation that has been brought to our attention that could affect a vital resource that has served Washington County’s most vulnerable children, youth and families — the Washington County Local Management Board (LMB). 

The LMB helps to fund many of the local organizations whose programs and services directly affect the goals and strategies outline in the SCIP document.

The State of Maryland’s Children’s Cabinet Interagency Fund’s (CCIF) allotment for LMBs has been significantly vulnerable over the last five years. The funding received by the LMBs in Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions is utilized for strategies designed to impact Maryland’s Results for Child Well-Being. Since fiscal year (FY) 2009, the Washington County LMB has sustained a 64 percent reduction in funding. This significant reduction has meant fewer dollars for health and human services programs for Washington County’s most vulnerable children, youth and families.

When the State’s FY 2013 budget was passed in April of this year, a $7.3 million or 45 percent reduction to the CCIF funding allotment to LMBs was included. This reduction amounted to $137,096 locally. The budget also proposed a fund swap that would allow LMBs to utilize locally held Earned Reinvestment funds to backfill the reduction. Earned Reinvestment funds are State general funds that LMBs “earned” through allocations from the CCIF in previous years that were not spent. These funds were originally intended for local service capacity building. The Washington County LMB has historically put the locally-held Earned Reinvestment funds to good use. Some of the major local projects funded with Earned Reinvestment funds were the renovation of three school-based health centers and the Washington County Family Center.

The $7.3 million reduction in funding for FY 2013 was proposed as a one-time reduction. It was the understanding of the LMBs that the $7.3 million would be restored in FY 2014. Unfortunately, the Maryland Association of LMBs has recently learned from the Department of Budget and Management that there is no intention to restore the $7.3 million in the state’s FY 2014 budget.  At best, the non-restoration of the $7.3 million would mean another 45 percent reduction in funding for the Washington County LMB.

At worst, it is likely that the reduction would be even greater as the majority of the remaining $8.8 million would likely be disbursed to larger metropolitan jurisdictions in Maryland. The Earned Reinvestment fund swap option would not be available for FY 2014, as the Washington County LMB did utilize these funds to compensate for the $137,096 reduction in FY 2013.

What is the real impact to our community? This news is very alarming as it would mean another significant reduction in funding for the Washington County LMB. 

The nearly $1 million in state health and human services grants to Washington County would be in jeopardy. The impact of these dollars can be seen in result-producing programs that served 4,400 vulnerable clients in FY 2012.  The strategies funded through the LMB, which impact six of the eight Maryland Result Areas for Child Well-Being, include supporting post secondary educational and training attainment, a robust Juvenile Delinquency Prevention & Diversion Initiative, youth development initiatives, innovative support for families of children with special needs, out of school time opportunities for children and youth at risk for juvenile delinquency in underserved areas of Washington County and significant teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection prevention efforts.

Additionally, these investments have other benefits for our community.  Studies show that for every dollar spent on prevention, $2-$20 in savings is realized by state and local government human service agencies.   These dollars also help fund 49 jobs to area residents.

Because the work and funding of the LMB definitely addresses numerous SCIP goals, we are concerned about the ramifications of the potential loss of funding and livelihood of this important organization.  Action has been taken by the Maryland Association of LMBs and the Washington County LMB in the form of letters and outreach to key decision-makers.

A local meeting has also been set up with Sen. George Edwards, who is a member of the Budget & Taxation Committee.  However, other support is needed from community members. Letters can be sent to several state officials, such as Matthew D. Gallagher, chief of staff; Joseph C. Bryce, chief legislative officer; and Sen. George Edwards. You can contact the United Way or Community Foundation’s offices for more information.

Jenny Fleming is Community Impact Director for United Way; Brad Sell is executive director of the Community Foundation.

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