July 31, 2014

Elyria
Sunny
59°F
test

Elyria Council committee unanimously puts five groups in block grant budget

ELYRIA — A meeting in City Council chambers Monday night was a fight for money that ended with five nonprofits being recommended to receive some the funding they need to do their work in the community.

Councilman Marcus Madison, D-5th Ward, started the meeting with an impassioned plea to garner the votes needed to fund the nonprofit cooperative he envisions for the 5th Ward but ended the meeting feeling satisfied that money would be funneled to nonprofits in the community.

It was the kind of compromise Madison said he could live with because it furthers his idea that the organizations that directly benefit children should have the resources to do their work.

“I support the work of these organizations,” he said Monday. “I happy we will support them and fund them so they can continue to tackle the tough issues in our community.”

Most in the room agreed the organizers are needed in the community.

“I know you are on the front lines every single day, and our kids need you,” said Councilwoman Donna Mitchell, D-6th Ward. “I salute you every single step of the way.”

In the end, Council’s Community Development Committee voted unanimously to fund three organizations Madison sought to fund — the Neighborhood Alliance, the Salvation Army and Save Our Children — as well as two others — Adopt-a-School and Family Promise of Lorain County.

Each will receive $5,600 to be used for fiscal year 2013, which starts in March.

“I think what was seen in action tonight was what the federal government can’t do and that is compromise,” said Councilman Jack Baird, D-at large. “Everyone has to give up a little something. Everyone doesn’t always get what they want.”

The recommendations for how the 2013 Community Development Block Grant funds should be allocated still have to go to full Council. But the hard part of deciding how the more than $700,000 should be split was done Monday.

In order to fund the requests of the nonprofits, a $28,000 reduction was made in block grant funding to public facilities.

Councilman Tom Callahan, D-at large and head of the Community Development meeting, said the slew of impassioned speeches from those seeking funding showed the challenge of dividing the grants.

“There are a lot of needs out there in the community for this federal block grant funding,” he said. “Finding the right formula and deciding where that money will be spent is not easy, even though it is something we do every year.”

The night may not have ended with Madison getting everything he wanted, including a needs assessment to determine the gaps in service in the community, but the nonprofits felt the talks of collaboration were a step in the right direction. Madison was told the federal grant may fund only direct services, not studies.

He said the United Way has offered to help achieve the needs assessment by facilitating a series of public meetings to help determine what needs are still not being met in the city.

Connie Osbourne, of the Neighborhood Alliance, said the group has a lot of work to do.

“The trend we are seeing in terms of funding with nonprofits is in collaboration,” she said. “This is about ensuring our children are not left behind.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.