Port Angeles to discuss cuts to nonprofits

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — City Council members are expected to discuss a recommendation to excise about $56,000 historically distributed to 15 Port Angeles nonprofits from the city’s preliminary 2013 budget when they meet Tuesday.

The 2013 budget work session will start at
5 p.m. in Port Angeles City Hall at 321 E. Fifth St.

At last Tuesday’s meeting, council members heard public comments concerning the proposed 2013 budget, set to be the subject of a third public hearing and a vote at the City Council’s Dec. 4 meeting.

Port Angeles resident Peter Ripley spoke in favor of reinstating the $56,250 that went to the nonprofits last year, saying the money helped some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“These are times of need for our community, especially for the low-income and disabled,” he said.

Jody Moss, executive director of the United Way of Clallam County, asked City Council members to re-examine the proposed budget and restore at least a portion of the money to the nonprofits, which provide a range of services to low-income, senior and mentally and physically challenged populations.

The United Way of Clallam County acts as the gatekeeper for the funds and helps decide, with the help of City Council members, which nonprofits get how much.

Moss said the services the nonprofits offer not only lend a hand to families and individuals in need but also act as an investment for the city by helping head off future medical emergency or law enforcement costs.

“A lot of the services being provided are preventative in nature,” Moss said.

City Manager Dan Mc-Keen has proposed cutting the money as part of filling a roughly $841,000 budget gap in a proposed budget that was presented to City Council members in October.

The city’s general fund, which finances most departments, is set at about
$18.7 million for 2013, which represents a 5 percent decrease from the 2012 general fund amount.

The allocation for nonprofits excised for 2013 represents about 0.3 percent of the city’s 2013 general fund.

“It’s such a small portion of the budget,” Moss said.

By comparison, roughly 68 percent of the city’s general fund goes to pay staff salaries, wages and benefits.

Last week, several City Council members raised concerns about failing to fund the nonprofits, and supported taking up the issue this Tuesday.

Councilman Patrick Downie suggested some money be taken from various places within the budget rather than cut one or two larger programs.

“We need to find a way to do it,” he said. “We need to challenge ourselves to re-order our priorities.”

Councilman Dan Di Guilio concurred, saying the city would send the wrong message in choosing not to fund health and human services.

“I can assure you, you’re not the only council member concerned about this,” Di Guilio told Downie last Tuesday.

Di Guilio worked until 2009 as director of housing improvements for Olympic Community Actions Programs, or OlyCAP, which receives city money through the United Way.

Di Guilio also was a former member of the Board of Directors for the United Way of Clallam County.

City Councilman Max Mania said he also would like to further discuss the nonprofit funding, especially since McKeen has said that the city is projecting additional budget challenges if the economy does not improve.

“What we’re doing is determining a budget template that will be used for years, based on [McKeen’s] projections,” Mania said.

Deputy Mayor Brad Collins, who did not comment on the nonprofit funding at the Tuesday meeting, works as the deputy director of resource development and capital projects for Serenity House of Clallam County, which historically has received city money through the United Way.

Collins has said he would recuse himself from any decisions on city funding managed by United Way of Clallam County since he is employed by one of the recipients of that funding.

According to United Way records, the nonprofit Serenity House of Clallam County, which provides services for the homeless, received $4,500 from the city last year.

That figure is about 3 percent of Serenity House’s total $154,000 budget.

Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 25. 2012 5:47PM
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