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City maintains most special funding requests

Falling in line with overall budget cuts, the Powell City Council voted to reduce funding for some local organizations — but they maintained most groups' funding at last year's levels.

The city's $15.7 million budget, which took effect July 1, calls for $117,575 in funding for local groups — a reduction of $22,600 from the previous year.

The only new line item in this year's special funds is $1,500 for plane fuel for Wings ‘N' Wheels.

Several organizations that were awarded money last year did not make special requests this year, including Park County Leadership, Forward Cody, the Park County Drug Court and Powell Alumni.

In addition to the Wings ‘N' Wheels funding for fuel, nine local organizations will receive funding through this year's budget.

They are:

Park County Youth Services, $4,000:
Councilmen voted to significantly reduce funding for the Park County Youth Services program, which supervises youthful offenders on probation and tracks repeat juvenile offenders in the Park County area.

Last year, the council provided $16,500 for the juvenile justice program, and the Park County Commission requested $17,000 this year.

However, because the county has declined federal grant money over the past two years, the city of Powell decided to reduce its funding to $4,000, the same amount it provided in 2008.

In the past two fiscal years, Park County declined grant money indirectly available through a federal law aimed at keeping juveniles out of jail, following years of accepting the money.

In a letter to the council last year, Park County commissioners stated, “Park County has declined to continue receiving the federal grants, as compliance requirements do not fall in line with the program goals.”

Powell Mayor Scott Mangold said he thinks the county should work to receive that federal money.

“I don't think they've worked at all at getting that grant,” Mangold said.

Costs for the program are divided among the city of Powell, city of Cody and Park County.

Of the $144,325 budgeted for 2011, the county commission proposed that the city of Powell provide $17,000 (15 percent), the city of Cody pay $40,000 (35 percent) and the county provide $57,325 (50 percent).

However, the city of Cody declined to provide any funding this year, and the city of Powell decided to provide just $4,000 — about 3 percent of the overall youth services' budget.

“I don't know if they're going to iron out the (federal) grant,” said Councilman John Wetzel during a budget work session. “I don't know who gets penalized if we decide to draw the line.”

Councilman Don Hillman added that maybe the city's reduction will be “incentive to straighten out the grant issue.”
Commissioners have shown no interest in accepting the federal funding again, as Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric believes the strings attached to the dollars are untenable.

In an interview Wednesday, Skoric said Powell's decision was “not a good thing,” and questioned why the cities view the funding for Youth Services as discretionary, rather than a general budget item. He said the impacts of Powell and Cody's decisions to cut funding are “yet to be determined.”

Powell Golf Club, $50,000:
The city's funding of the golf course will be used for capital improvements and equipment, fertilizing the greens and desert fairways, re-grassing the pines fairways and golf-cart upgrades.

Golf club board president Greg Toland told councilmen the club is trying to turn things around and become financially solvent following a fall out in funds a few years ago.

“It took some time to rebuild,” he said.

This year, club leaders hope to pay off all debts.

“At the end of this year, if we adhere to this budget, we'll be at zero,” Toland said.

The mayor and some councilmen questioned whether to continue funding the golf course at a high level — the golf course receives about 42 percent of the council's $117,575 in special funds this year. Last year, the council gave the golf course $55,000.

“To me, recreation is a want, not a need,” Councilman Jim Hillberry said, adding that he is worried about the city's budget constraints.

“I'm looking at the budget, and Zane (Logan) tells us next year could be even worse,” he said.

Councilmen asked if there was a way for the golf club to cut its budget, but Toland said the budget had already been reduced wherever possible.

“I know you guys are hurting, too, but we're cut so far down, it's hard to cut more,” Toland told councilmen during a work session.

“It would be nice for it to be self-sufficient, but there aren't very many (golf courses) that are, unless they're private,” said Mayor Mangold. “We don't want it to become private. We want it open to the public.”

Councilman Wetzel said he believes “every dollar we spend out there is well spent.”

Councilman Floyd Young added that the community benefits from a public golf course.

A liaison from the council will serve on the Powell Golf Club Board this year.

Powell Recreation District, $30,000:
For the fifth consecutive year, the city renewed its annual funding of $30,000 for the recreation district.

“The cooperation between the recreation district and the city of Powell/Parks Department is strong. The support that we receive from the city is tremendous, and we hope to maintain and build on our many partnerships,” said Danny Shorb, chairman of the Powell Recreation District Board, in a letter to the council.

Shorb said the mill levy, which is approved by Park County School District No. 1, is expected to decrease by around 31 percent this year — amounting to a $95,000 deficit from last year's mill levy total. Shorb said the district's revenue sources have been insufficient to meet its needs, and the city's assistance helps the district sustain its various services in the community.

Big Brothers Big Sisters $1,000:
In a letter to the council, program director Abby Brewer said the organization has provided mentoring for more than 100 boys and girls since opening the Powell office in 2005.

“We need this support to sustain our programming in Powell. All funds received in Powell will go directly toward our matches in Powell,” Brewer wrote.

The city maintained the $1,000 that it provided last year. The organization requested $5,000 for 2011, but councilmen opted to maintain last year's $1,000 rather than provide an increase.

Boys and Girls Club, $5,000:
The council awarded the organization $7,500 last year, but voted to reduce this year's funding to $5,000. The $5,000 is in line with what the city awarded the group in 2008.

More than 500 boys and girls use the club's programs, said Tina Bernard, chief professional officer, in a letter to the council.

The organization's costs for the Powell unit are budgeted at $186,719, Bernard noted.

“As you know, we intentionally keep our membership fees low,” Bernard wrote. “We depend on support from any entity or individual that supports our mission.”

Last year, the organization served 378 households, and 75 percent fell in the low- to moderate-income range.

Caring for Powell Animals, $3,075:
The council maintained its funding of the organization, which uses the money to pay for liability insurance, food and veterinarian bills for vaccinations.

Crisis Intervention Services, $4,000:
The organization's Powell location serves as the handicap-accessible facility for the entire county and is used heavily for the shelter, according to a letter by Lisa Velker, executive director for Crisis Intervention Services.

A total of nine women and 18 children were sheltered in Powell for 216 days of the 2009 fiscal year.

The organization offers confidential services 24 hours per day to Powell residents free of charge.

Since 2008, the Crisis Intervention Service's operating budget has been reduced by $65,210. Due to funding cuts, the organization has laid off two full-time and one part-time employee. It also has reduced health care benefits from family coverage to employee-only coverage.

In the last fiscal year, the organization received $14,000 from the Park County Commissioners, $5,000 from the city of Cody and $4,000 from Powell.

Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce, $13,500:
Money from the city helps the chamber fund updated publications, its website and newsletters and various events, such as the Spring Phling and Crazy Days. The chamber requested $14,500 again this year, but the council voted to reduce the chamber's funding to $13,500.

Powell Senior Center, $7,000:
To help the senior center pay for a new van, the city doubled its funding from $3,500 last year. The senior center applied for a Department of Transportation grant to fund the new van. The grant requires a 10-percent match, which amounts to $4,500.

“While our transportation services sees our local seniors as a priority, that does not mean that we do not service other community members. We offer this service up to folks with disabilities as well as the public in general,” said Cathy Florian, the program director, in a letter to the council.

Florian noted that the senior center van transports residents to doctor's appointments, downtown stores, hair salon appointments and other errands.

Rather than fund the entire $4,500 match, the council voted to provide $3,500 toward the match. That amount was added to its yearly $3,500 allotment, bringing the total senior center funding to $7,000 this year.

Councilmen agreed that the funding increase was for a worthwhile cause.

“I know the budget is pretty tight, but I think we ought to help them out,” said Councilman Wetzel.

“It's definitely a viable service,” added Councilman Hillman.

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