At its regular meeting Monday night, the Greensburg City Council considered funding requests from local non-profit organizations and determined final dollar amounts to be allocated to each organization in 2013.
According to documents reviewed by the Daily News, a total of nine community organizations requested funding from the Council for 2013, including: Greensburg Community Schools ($5,000); Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Decatur County (BBBS) ($10,000); the Greensburg-Decatur County Small Business Center ($5,000); Greensburg Catch A Ride ($5,000); the Greensburg-Decatur County New Directions Domestic Violence Center ($20,000); the Greensburg-Decatur County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) ($60,000); the Greensburg Learning Center ($15,000); MainStreet Greensburg ($30,000); and the Greensburg Bread of Life Soup Kitchen ($20,000).
Those nine organizations requested a total of $170,000. Ultimately, however, after consideration of each request and limited debate on a few, the council awarded $145,000 of the requested funds.
In all, Greensburg Community Schools, the Greensburg-Decatur County Small Business Center, Greensburg Catch A Ride, the EDC, the Greensburg Learning Center and MainStreet Greensburg received the full amount requested, for a total of $120,000.
BBBS received $5,000 of its requested $10,000, while New Directions was allocated $15,000 of a $20,000 request, with the Bread of Life receiving $5,000 of $20,000.
District 3 Councilman Jamie Cain repeatedly questioned the requests, challenging whether several were in the best interests of both taxpayers and the city.
“I’m not suggesting these aren’t worthwhile organizations,” Cain said several times during the course of the session. “But I wonder if we’re making the best possible use of this money. I just want to make sure the money is well spent. Are we allocating here in the best possible way for the citizens of this community?”
Cain also repeatedly made clear his opinion the organizations in question should be encouraged to become more self-sufficient, suggesting the council should “draw a line in the sand,” and “push back a little,” by encouraging organizations to make budget cuts, raise prices for their services where applicable, and manage their endeavors more efficiently. He further suggested that the amount of funding dollars per year for any given organization should decrease, with the ultimate goal being to eliminate funding entirely wherever possible.
With nine organizations asking for 2013 funding dollars, as opposed to eight in 2012, Cain also wondered, “How many new organizations will ask for funding next year?”
Cain expressed his greatest reservations for the allocation to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Decatur County, which requested $7,000 more in 2013 compared to 2012.
“I can’t see giving them [BBBS] $10,000,” he said. “We gave them $3,000 last year; that’s more than triple.”
District 2 Councilman Blake O’Mara, however, insisted that BBBS’s funding situation was markedly different in 2012, with the charity making its request later in the year compared to 2013, following the results of fund-raising events.
Added Mayor Gary Herbert, “I don’t think you can put a price on what BBBS does, serving as surrogate parents to the kids in this community who don’t have a parent. This is a worthwhile cause — trying to shape the minds and actions of our youngsters.”
Herbert also pointed out that BBBS funding would come from Indiana’s Riverboat Fund, which is compiled from taxes on the state’s various casinos.
According to documents, five of Monday night’s nine requests were funded through the Riverboat Fund. The remaining four allocations — those to the Small Business Center, the EDC, the Learning Center and MainStreet Greensburg — came from the city’s Edit Fund.
Herbert described the Edit Fund as being seeded from the County Economic Income Development Tax.
“Every citizen in Decatur County with a job pays that tax,” the mayor explained.
Cain ultimately agreed to halve the amount of funds requested by BBBS, agreeing with other council members the organization will likely make up the difference with fundraising dollars and donations.
As with BBBS, Cain again expressed reservations in allotting more money to New Directions than the amount allotted to the organization in 2012 ($20,000 versus $15,000).
Herbert spoke favorably of the Domestic Violence Center, commending its current director Diane Moore.
“I give Diane Moore a lot of credit,” the mayor said. “She’s brought this undertaking a long way. She’s done a great job.”
“I know this is a tough decision gentlemen,” he continued. “You have to look at the value of what you get for your money.”
With Greensburg Police Chief Stacey Chasteen in the audience Monday night, Councilman O’Mara took a more pragmatic approach in addressing Cain’s concerns.
“Do you feel that New Directions has cut down on police calls?” O’Mara queried the chief.
Chasteen affirmed that yes, New Directions and the GPD have established a close working relationship, proving beneficial to both entities and, in turn, also beneficial to Decatur County and Greensburg.
Added Councilman-at-Large Glen Tebbe, “New Directions serves families in crisis, so it does indeed help out the entire community. And they do seek funding from other sources as well; they regularly apply for grants.”
The mayor suggested that the center receive its 2012 funding amount and return to the council for additional funding, provided they can “demonstrate a need.”
The Council agreed and unanimously allotted $15,000 to the center, with possibly more to be awarded at a later date.
According to documents, the Bread of Life didn’t request funding from the Council in 2012, but requested $20,000 in 2013.
The bulk of that money, according to Council discussion, was requested to fund re-pavement of the facility’s parking lot. The Council unanimously agreed that such an expenditure wouldn’t amount to judicious use of taxpayer dollars and thus lowered the actual amount alloted to the soup kitchen to $5,000. The Council also stipulated that Bread of Life not use the money to pay any part of re-paving its parking lot.
Also on Monday night, the council heard a brief report from the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals on its long-germinating new city sign ordinance.
The council set a tentative vote on the ordinance for a later meeting, agreeing that the measure, which was two-years in development, had reached a version suitable for final considerations.
The next meeting of the Greensburg City Council will be held at 7 p.m., March 4, at City Hall.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011