Volunteer organizations thank BOS for help

Each year at the Board of Supervisors’ budget public hearing, the volume of speakers can approach a number that forces those waiting in their seats to fidget.  There are a variety of speakers who want to thank the Board of Supervisors for past contributions to their cause; a number of citizens are asking for continued or increased support and some just want to complain about the system.

The public hearing on the budget was not much different from prior years although somewhat more organized. Speakers remained in their seat until called by the clerk for their turn to speak.

The board went through a number of budget items including fee changes at the Department of Utilities; considering the proposed 2012 tax rates; considering the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the one that brought the most speakers to the meeting – the Proposed FY2013 – FY2014 Biannual Financial Plan.

But for the most part, the 29 speakers had come to speak about a very small part of the budget – Community Contracts.

At $635,100, the community contracts budget has increased slightly since 2011 when the budget line item was $582,000, but is still an extremely small part of an operating budget of over $700 million.

The increase last year will probably remain flat in the out years according the county’s budget and management office, which compiles the budget each year.

“The individual allocations could change [if the board sees a need] from time to time,” said Matt Harris of the budget and management office.”

The Board of Supervisors endeavors to allocate available funds to effectively and equitably meet the needs of the communities and organizations that rely on the county’s support. The current economic downtown has curtailed both the county’s budget and its ability to provide assistance to organizations outside county government that augment services to citizens.

The organizations that receive the grant-type funding from the county are nonprofit groups such as Caritas, CChasm and the Shepherd’s Center. They split about .0083 percent of the overall general fund.

Many organizations spoke at last Wednesday’s budget hearing to ensure that the board understood their nonprofit is indispensible.

John Chamberlain, chairman of the Shepherd’s Center board explained that the organizations mission is to help seniors maintain active and independent lifestyles.  

“We offer three programs to help accomplish this,” Chamberlain said. “We provide free transportation to seniors for medical appointments and grocery shopping; our “handy hands” program helps seniors with minor home repairs and our “Adventures in Learning Program” gives seniors an opportunity to  take courses on various  topics and to learn new hobbies and get together with other seniors for weekly fellowship, and we also serve them lunch during these sessions.

Chamberlain thanked the board for helping them fund the Shepherd’s Center organization even though a preponderance of funding for the Shepherd’s Center, like many of the nonprofits, is raised through outside grants and volunteer contributions.

The Shepherd’s Center story was A similar story told by a number of organizations throughout the Board’s evening session.

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