County approves limits on funding to some nonprofits

Some groups no longer will qualify for money under the county's Community Agency Partnership Program.


Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 11:46 p.m.

Many nonprofit organizations that have long received money through Alachua County's Community Agency Partnership Program will be ineligible next year, when the county will limit funding to programs that provide the poor with food, health care, shelter and utility assistance.

Tuesday, county commissioners formally approved the categories of services that the county program, commonly referred to as CAPP, will fund in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Their decision drew opposition and concerns from representatives of three organizations that work with children and teens.

This year, the Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County received $100,000 from CAPP for a program that subsidized the cost of day care for children of the working poor. Early Learning Coalition Director Gordon Tremaine said that $100,000 was leveraged as a local match to gain 16 times that amount in federal funding for the day-care program, which he estimated serves 500 children.

Tremaine argued that, if the day-care program ceases or is cut back because of funding issues, some working poor will not be able to afford day care and will have to leave their jobs to take care of their children.

"We will actually add to the ranks of the desperate people" the county CAPP program is intended to aid, Tremaine said.

For six years, the Friends of the Micanopy Library Inc. has received county funding for its Micanopy Collaborators for Educational Excellence, a free after-school tutoring program for at- risk elementary, middle and high school students from the Micanopy area. This year, the program received $12,000 and, according to a report by the CAPP advisory board, had a "profound impact and significant return for the money spent."

That program, too, will not be eligible for funding in the 2010-11 fiscal year. Sally Guthrie, a volunteer with the program, said the program faced an uncertain future without the county's financial assistance.

Hippodrome State Theatre General Manager Rocky Draud lamented that the theater's substance abuse prevention outreach program, the Hippodrome Improvisational Teen Theatre, would lose the county funding that was used as a local match to gain 10 times that amount. This year the program received $38,000 in county funding and the program included more than 500 teenagers.

Last November, a majority of the County Commission agreed that, in the face of likely budget cuts, the CAPP program should only fund programs that provide food, medical care and shelter/utilities. Commissioner Mike Byerly described the focus as "basic human sustenance."

Tuesday, commissioners officially approved, 3-1, the categories of services that would be funded. Commissioner Lee Pinkoson, who favored maintaining CAPP funding for organizations such as the Early Learning Coalition, dissented, and Commissioner Rodney Long was absent.

Commission Chairwoman Cynthia Chestnut said the county potentially could reduce overall funding for CAPP, "carving" out money to keep the Early Learning Coalition funded outside of the CAPP program.

It remains to be seen whether commissioners will go that way.

"I would not support starting down the path of earmarking money for specific organizations," Byerly said.

The county CAPP program provides funding to 501(c)(3) nonprofit social service organizations that aid Alachua County residents. During the current fiscal year, the county provided a little more than $1 million, down about $100,000 from last year, to 38 agencies. The CAPP program does not yet have a proposed 2010-11 budget.

Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or chris.curry@gvillesun.com.

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