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Publication Date: Friday, April 25, 2003

Nonprofits see less city cash Nonprofits see less city cash (April 25, 2003)

Decrease in federal, general funds means less for charities

By Candice Shih

Good intentions weren't enough to fight the bad economy as the city council wrestled with its nonprofit funding decisions last Tuesday.

Several programs were left unfunded and several others took reductions in this year's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation process. While the city had $143,835 of the federal funds to give out last year to agencies that provide services for the homeless, elderly, and hungry, it only had $128,550 this year.

In addition, the council had decided earlier to use 5 percent of its funding, $6,427 this year, to fund previously unfunded agencies. But despite efforts by Council members Greg Perry and Matt Neely to give $5,000 to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which runs a day worker center, the council decided not to follow this recommendation. "I think it's a great idea ... but the new programs aren't compelling enough for me to cut basic services," said Council member Rosemary Stasek.

The Community Services Agency received the most funding, $81,550, for its emergency assistance, senior, and Alpha Omega programs. Overall, CSA was awarded more money than it was last year.

"Historically, the council has supported CSA because they realize we provide a vital service to the community," said Executive Director Tom Myers. Although funding for emergency assistance actually increased by $3,595, funding for its senior services was decreased by $1,997. It is yet to be seen how the loss, compounded with losses from other sources, will impact CSA's 2003-2004 budget.

In the council's efforts to protect CSA, other agencies took hits. The Clara-Mateo Alliance Shelter for the homeless and the Senior Day Health Program received no funding. The Senior Adults Legal Assistance, which advises seniors on eviction and Social Security issues, for example, received $2,930, compared to $6,000 in previous years.

"It's obvious they have to make cuts," said Pat Figueroa, a SALA board member and former Mountain View mayor. But SALA's other revenue streams have diminished, and hours for the lawyers will likely have to be reduced.

While making the amounts balance out was a challenge, it was probably made easier by the American Red Cross' request for no money after receiving $4,000 last year. The funds had been used for its homelessness prevention program, which was discontinued largely because its revenue kept decreasing every year.

The council also made preliminary decisions on another block of the city's money, the General Fund Public Service Programs. As with the CDBG funds, 5 percent, or $7,488, was to be used on new programs. Most programs will receive a similar amount to what they received last year, with the exception of the Community School of Music and Arts which will take a $5,000 decrease, and Parents Helping Parents, Inc., a previously unfunded agency, which will receive $5,000.

Mayor Mike Kasperzak recused himself from the discussion and vote because his wife Lisa serves on the board of CSMA.

Council members Mary Lou Zoglin and Matt Pear voted against this distribution of funds because they felt that CSMA deserved the $20,558 it had received in the 2002-2003 fiscal year. But Stasek said that because CSMA has received $52,259 for its Arts in Action and $24,800 for its Music in Action programs from the city, it was already being substantially supported.

Parents Helping Parents provides information, training, and support services for parents who have children with special needs. It projects that it will serve 216 clients in Mountain View.

A program that has recently received $15,836 in funding decided not to request any this year. Outreach & Escort, Inc. will have to cut 20 percent of its staff because of the economy and will no longer be able to operate its subsidy program for low-income seniors.

The council will cast a final vote on the distribution of these funds later in the year, before the 2003-2004 budget is adopted.

E-mail Candice Shih at cshih@mv-voice.com


 

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