Government / Politics

Supes approve allocation recommendations for community-based organizations

County leaders discuss allocations for community-based organizations to be included in FY 16/17 budget

As the county moves closer to determining its fiscal year 2016-17 budget, the Board of Supervisors will hold several special meetings in order to discuss the myriad details to be considered. Joe Paul Gonzalez, county auditor, gave a six-hour presentation May 17 that included briefings about budgetary reserve funds, Public Agency Retirement Services (P.A.R.S.), capitalization policy, an actuarial report, CalPers, and the current county budget status for FY 2015/16.

In addition, Melinda Casillas, a county management analyst, prepared and presented a report on the community-based organizations allocation for FY 16/17. On March 29, according to the background summary agenda item, the subcommittee met in order to review applications from various nonprofits that were submitted before the deadline of Dec. 31, 2015.

Casillas said as part of the budgeting process, the county allocates approximately six percent of sales tax monies to community-based organizations. She said the submission process starts in October and the applications are reviewed at the end of December. The county asked the organizations for financial information, what demographics they service and how they get the word out to them. The subcommittee met in April to review the applications and came up with recommendations to fund out of the roughly $120,000 to distribute among the organizations.

“We normally have six community-based organizations that we regularly provide funding to,” she said. “This year, we received another six applications. Those are CASA, Hollister Youth Alliance, Chamberlain's Children Center, San Benito Arts Council, and United Way’s Stuff the Bus 12 Days of Giving program.”

Casillas said requests from the 12 organizations totaled $183,700 for FY 16/17. The subcommittee was recommending a total funding of $119,000. This compares to $107,500 in funding for six organizations in FY 15/16. There was an additional $43,500 amount last year from the City of Hollister.

Breaking down the organizations’ requests and allowed amounts:

Jovenes de Antano – $40,000…………….$40,000 (Hollister gave $25,000 recently)                                          

Senior Citizens Legal Services – $4,500……………$4,000

AAA – Operated by Seniors Council – $35,000…………$30,000

Advocacy – $6,500…………..$6,000 (Hollister gave $3,500 recently)

Community Food Bank – $15,000……….$12,500

Emmaus House – $30,000…………$18,500

Casa – Court Appointed Special Advocates – $5,000……….$1,000 (Hollister gave $5,000 recently)

Hollister Youth Alliance – $25,000………$4,000

Chamberlains Children Center – $4,100…….$1,000 (Hollister gave $3,000 recently)

SBC Arts Council – $3,600………….$1,000 (Hollister gave $7,000 recently)

United Way, Stuff the Bus – $5,000…………$1,000

Casillas said representatives for all the organizations had been invited to speak before the supervisors. Pauline Valdivia, representing Jovenes de Antano, thanked the supervisors on behalf of her board and the seniors the organizations serves.

“I know most of you are aware that we’ve been here providing services for over 40 years and we want to continue,” she said. “I just wanted to thank you personally for your continued support.”

Supervisor Anthony Botelho told Valdivia he wanted to thank her for the work she has done at the community center and said, “People don’t realize how important it is to those individuals who receive it.”

Valdivia said that with Jovenes being one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the county, it is sometimes a struggle to secure funding.

Supervisor Jerry Muenzer asked Casillas if she was looking for a decision on the recommendation or would it be coming back at a later meeting. Casillas said it is the recommendation that would go into the budget and added that the committee would appreciate knowing as soon as possible if the board wanted to make any changes, but it also was OK if the board wanted to wait until the budget hearings. Muenzer wanted to know if all nonprofits had been invited to come to the meeting to speak. Casillas said that was correct, and no one was scheduled to speak at any future meeting.

Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz asked for clarification, asking if only the 12 organizations had been invited to come or if all nonprofits in the county had been invited. Casillas said the 12 that were invited were the only organizations that had applied for funds.

Muenzer said he also wanted to know how much money Hollister Youth Alliance receives from the individual county agencies through contracts. She said she would have to get back to him with that information. Ray Espinosa, county CAO, said that if there are any adjustments, the board should keep in mind there is only so much money being allocated for community-based organization allocations.

“We have a calendar for June 14 to have a dry run for the board meeting, so if there are any changes or concerns from the board after you hear the presentation at the regular board meeting on May 24, then we can bring it up and address it,” Espinosa said.

Again, Muenzer wanted to clarify that the board would not make an immediate decision. Espinosa said it was his understanding that the final decision would be made during the budget hearing and the budget is adopted.

Wayne Norton, program coordinator for Long-term Care Ombudsman Program of San Benito County, said he was confused about the procedure.

“The way we understood it, today was going to be the report from the committee and then next week there were going to be presentations about the work that we do,” Norton said. “We were planning on coming next week not to ask you for more money, but to give you a report. Just from conversations with other non-profits, the process wasn’t really clear about exactly what they were supposed to be doing.”

Victoria Fortino, with United Way, said she appreciated the allocation for the Stuff the Bus program. She noted that more than half the children in the county are qualified to receive the backpacks the program gives away and that more than 7,000 children need them. Last year the organization was able to give away ore than 1,600 backpacks, and this year’s goal is 2,000.  

Denise Cauthen-Wright, who is with Chamberlain's Children Center, said the organization is asking for funding in order to work with the Arts Council to provide art therapy for the children the organization serves.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho said he didn’t have any issues with the allocations and thanked the ad hoc committee that worked on the program. He did say he would like to see more detail in the presentation from Hollister Youth Alliance.

“It’s not that much money,” he said, “but there is a lot of need for the youth. I had a constituent tell me there is a special needs baseball league in Hollister. I’d like to see that supported somehow in the future.”

Supervisor Margie Barrios, who, along with De La Cruz, was on the ad hoc committee, said thought had been given to matching funds and organizations that receive them.

“We also considered city allocations and the needs of the vulnerable, the seniors, the youth, the low-income families, and we looked at some of these agencies that actually cover all of them,” Barrios said. “It was difficult because there is a need for all of them. We hope that next year we can increase the allocation.”

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]