County to vote on reduced funding
For years, officials have worked in earnest to reduce the county’s funding for nonprofit groups which provide needed services to the area’s most vulnerable populations. This year is no different.
But unlike prior years when budget cuts ran deep, taxpayer contributions to nonprofits will remain relatively flat with the exception of matching funds for Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, which cut its original funding request by $100,000 for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, according to county budget director Gordon Burger.
The County Commission today, at a regular agenda meeting in the County Administration Building in Murdock at 9 a.m., will vote on annual contracts for the United Way of Charlotte County, which vets local nonprofits requesting county funds and oversees the distribution of those funds, in the amount of $577,032; the Arts and Humanities Council of Charlotte County for $25,000; Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center for $35,000; the Military Heritage Museum for $15,000; and Charlotte Behavioral Health Care for $1,334,681. Commissioners approved the dollar amounts last month when they adopted the new budget.
Since 2008, when the county was allocating just over $1 million in taxpayer dollars to nonprofits, officials have been aggressive in cutting appropriations. That year, the county contracted with the United Way to vet the nonprofits and make funding recommendations. Before then, agencies routinely approached the commission to directly solicit funds.
“(By allowing the United Way to vet agencies) it’s taking it out of the political arena so commissioners aren’t being lobbied directly,” Burger said.
The big change during the budget cycle this year came from Charlotte Behavioral Health, which scaled back its original request by $100,000 — a reduction that came about as a result of increased revenue from private insurance for substance abuse services and an “overmatch” by the county of state grant monies, said CBHC executive director Jay Glynn.
The county is required to match state funding for mental health services but not for many substance abuse programs, which the county has been funding for several years, said Glynn. Increased efficiencies have allowed the agency to streamline its operations and bring in more revenue, thereby reducing the county’s match each year, he said.
In fiscal year 2009-2010, for instance, the county was required to pay $950,976 in matching funds, but it appropriated $1,594,601 so it was “overmatched” by $643,625 — money that was used for substance abuse services and expenses associated with the county’s detox facility, Glynn said.
“We have been running our (facility) as a business and we’ve been able to bring in more money in private insurance and private pay, so in good conscience if we’re having a good year we can’t ask the county to stay overmatched,” Glynn said. “We want to be a good partner.”
Glynn noted that while public funding has been reduced, the demand for services has not. Six years ago, he said, the agency was seeing about 3,000 people a year for mental health and substance abuse services.
“Now we’re seeing about 10,000 a year,” Glynn said. “The economic situation has been so bad, the demand has exploded.”