Restoring CAPP funding will get county's attention
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 6:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 6:50 p.m.
The Alachua County Commission tweaked the parameters for the fiscal year 2013-14 Community Agency Partnership Program on Tuesday, but the question of whether the 15 percent funding cut that CAPP faced this fiscal year will be restored will remain unanswered until budget discussions begin.
CAPP provides funding for nonprofits aimed at reducing poverty. In fiscal year 2011-2012, it allocated a total of $1,167,315 for various programs, which in turn brought just under $3.5 million in funds into Alachua County and garnered just under $10.4 million in donated goods and services, according to a county report.
Commissioner Mike Byerly said he supported, at a minimum, restoring the 15 percent funding cut to CAPP, which amounted to about $175,000 eliminated from its budget for this fiscal year.
“They got cut a lot harder than everyone else got cut, and I didn't agree with that,” Byerly said after the meeting. Now isn't the time to reduce assistance to the “most desperate of the desperate,” given the nation's struggling economy, Byerly said.
With the recent election of Commissioners Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson and Charles “Chuck” Chestnut IV, Byerly wants to give the board a chance to revisit the issue.
Discussion of CAPP's funding will likely begin when the county kicks off its overall budget talks in March.
The commission did make some decisions about CAPP's parameters for fiscal year 2013-14.
It reaffirmed the program's funding categories, which include food, health care, housing and utilities, and children's programs for physical safety or academic education, in a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Susan Baird in dissent. The commission also decided that organizations which request CAPP funding without going through its application process will not be considered at a later date.
Hutchinson voted against the motion, which passed 4-1, out of concern that groups might need assistance after the deadline due to unforeseen circumstances.
The board unanimously approved a mandate that nonprofits submit statistics and other information on how they are addressing poverty's root causes during the CAPP application or evaluation processes.
During the meeting, Byerly cautioned against expecting the county to be able to effectively address the root causes of poverty but said it can help manage the symptoms. “Treating a symptom sometimes helps get a hold of the problem,” he said.
Commissioner Lee Pinkoson advocated for a greater emphasis on supporting children-centric programs.
Chestnut said he preferred to allow CAPP to function as it has in recent years for now, considering the county's tight budget and the apparent success it has had with its current methods.
“We're getting the bang for the buck,” he said. “I'm willing to stay status quo in terms of what we have here.”
After the meeting, Baird questioned how much success the county has actually had in reducing poverty.
In Alachua County, 23.6 percent of people were below poverty level from 2007 to 2011, compared to 14.7 percent for the state, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
After two decades of talking about helping the poor and instituting measures like CAPP, which began in 1985, to reduce local poverty, Baird wondered why the county's rate is still so high and whether its policies should be altered in order to make them more effective.
Earlier at its morning policy discussion meeting, the commission addressed resident complaints about loud, late-night noise coming from events held at the Alachua County Fairgrounds, directing staff to evaluate and report back on a possible sound ban during the early-morning hours. Hutchinson suggested the county institute a ban on amplified sound after midnight at the fairgrounds as a way to mitigate the impact on nearby residents. The sound moratorium would likely last until 7 a.m.
The board also discussed construction plans for the county's road reconstruction project for Northwest 16th/23rd Avenue at its Tuesday morning policy meeting. Baird asked staff to consider patching potholes along Northwest 16th Avenue prior to construction as an interim measure, or as a “Band-aid” to improve road conditions for drivers.
Bidding for the project will begin in April and construction is set to start sometime this summer, said Chris Zeigler, senior engineering technician for the county. Plans are 90 percent complete.
Staff will evaluate the feasibility of covering the potholes, he said. It could grind up strips of asphalt and use that to patch them up.
Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or email@example.com.