Nonprofits look for crumbs in county budget | Recordnet.com
Nonprofits look for crumbs in county budget
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Claude Brown, president of the San Joaquin County Historical Society, makes his pitch for funds Tuesday in front of the Board of Supervisors.
CLIFFORD OTO/The Record
By Zachary K. Johnson
Record Staff Writer
June 29, 2011 12:00 AM
STOCKTON - Compared with San Joaquin County's $1.249 billion budget, the $33,000 requested by Family & Youth Services seems insignificant.
But without it, a program that allows first-time misdemeanor offenders to perform community service instead of paying high court fines or doing time behind bars would end.
"It's just a small amount of money, but it does a lot," said Linda Mascarenas, the nonprofit group's executive director. If the amount of work done is valued at $10 an hour, that means the offenders in the program perform $243,670 worth of community service, she said.
Mascarenas spoke on the first of three days worth of budget hearings before the Board of Supervisors. A group of nonprofit organizations asking for a total of about $400,000 in funding topped the agenda Tuesday afternoon.
"We know it's a tough year, but all the nonprofits here do a great job," Mascarenas said.
Board Chairman Larry Ruhstaller said it's not the quality of the organizations that's in question.
"The question is: Where are we going to dig up the cash for these requests."
Many of these groups have seen the amount they receive from the county dwindle in recent years as elected officials struggle with tough budget cuts. And though the nonprofit organizations receive funding through other parts of the budget, the amount of supplemental funding awarded at the tail-end of the budget process has been slipping. Four of the groups that came before the board were told earlier this year they were receiving no such funding.
One of those groups, the San Joaquin Partnership, received $59,000 last year in its efforts to attract businesses to the county. Without the money, the group will have to seek out more private donations or reduce its staffing. President and CEO Michael Ammann asked for the same again this year. "It's essential to keep solidarity in these tough economic times," he said.
The county has been shedding jobs in recent years as costs have risen and the down economy has sapped revenue, including from such sources as property taxes and state program funding. Officials said this year's proposed budget again dips into one-time pots of money that won't be helpful in the future if the county can't close the gap between costs and revenue.
In the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning Friday, county departments are asking for more than $3 million in supplemental funding. The department heads will make their case when the hearings continue today at 9 a.m. on the Sixth Floor of the County Administration Building at 44 N. San Joaquin St.
Contact reporter Zachary K. Johnson at (209) 546-8258 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/johnsonblog.