In a passionate appeal by Debra Roth, chair of F.C. Human Services Advisory Council (HSAC), surrounded by a dozen citizen volunteers, to the F.C. City Council Monday night, the discrepancy between $86,277 allotted in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget now being considered by the Council and basic needs adding up to $190,845 was underscored.
The Council is mulling action on a $114 million annual budget with no tax rate increase and will make its final decision on May 8. No decision, nor discussion, was taken on the HSAC request. Roth’s appeal, in its conclusion, was to add only another $30,000 to the HSAC allotment.
Roth said, “Frankly, it is time to put more of our money where our mouth is.
“This ask is about turning problems into solutions, solutions that respond to needs clearly outlined in the City’s values and mission.”
She said that the Community Services Fund (CSF), whose grants are reviewed and approved by HSAC, “has enabled worthy, outstanding non-profit organizations to provide critical help to the neediest in our City and others with special needs.”
The grants, she said, enable projects to be implemented that fill a number of gaps, such as 12-step programs for people with substance use disorders and addictions who are in recovery, peer-mentor relationships for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and, for those who are adults, assistance in landing jobs, handling everyday needs, and more, mental health services including interventions, daily assistance, and case work, free legal representation for low-income people, free radio and phone reading of news and key information to individuals who are sight impaired, low-cost dental care, conflict resolution that keeps people out of jail and brings parties together, free rides and other assistance for those 50 or older to doctors and for important errands for those who cannot drive, a model state government program for high school students, housing and financial services and education for homeless individuals or those who can barely
afford a home; and English skills and other help for our refugees.
These programs serve an estimated 1,000 in the City of 14,800, and more if included are organizations and the people they serve who give much to the community. For example, Roth suggested, many are customers of local businesses.
“There are organizations who augment our community by partnering with service providers we have in place. Many who receive help also volunteer and, therefore, help others. And many who are helped are learning, when applicable, to be more productive. They just need a leg up,” she said, adding, “HSAC’s outreach — connecting with other City boards and commissions, as Council has encouraged us all to do, and to the community and region at large — has brought us more opportunities that are leading to connections which help these organizations multiply their efforts toward success. And it’s brought us more grant requests.”
Group Seeks for More $ for F.C.’s Vital Human Service Needs
The organizations that are currently allotted only $86,277 in the current proposed budget “rarely request much and don’t depend solely on us, but their needs run deep and they count on us. Now they are facing raging inflation,” she said.
“Our ask is for a drop in the bucket, especially for a City that last
year was able to cut taxes by nine percent and is looking at a sharp increase in revenue due to new developments. As it is, out of the $112.6 million budget now being proposed, Community Services funds add up to only .00078 percent of what the City is spending.”
She added, “When you talk about expanding accessibility, healthcare, education, assuring that mental health crises don’t turn into disasters, easing the transition for refugees into the United States, and unifying our community, here’s your chance to take a solid step by growing the Community Services Fund.”
She concluded, “Please accept our request to raise the CSF budget by $30,000 from $86,277 for a total of $116,277 to be granted for FY2024.”