County Board Increases Nonprofit Funding

At its Dec. 7, 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners – on a 10-1 vote – increased the county’s budget allocation for human services nonprofits that are supported through the coordinated funding model in 2012-2013. The two-year budget approved by commissioners on Nov. 16 had included $128,538 in cuts each year to coordinated funding. That amount is now restored. In total, the line item for coordinated funding is $1.015 million in 2012 and 2013, the same amount that was budgeted for 2011.

Voting against the increase was Dan Smith (R-District 2). He noted that the board had just approved the budget at its last meeting, and it was premature to increase funding at this point, especially since the county asked its employees to make sacrifices to balance the budget. He also pointed to the projected $14 million deficit in 2014, which will require additional cuts, saying that the county is in dire financial straits.

Coordinated funds are distributed to a range of nonprofits through a process administered by the joint county/city of Ann Arbor office of community development, pooled with money from Ann Arbor, the Washtenaw Urban County, and Washtenaw United Way. The process gives priority for funding nonprofits that serve in six targeted areas: housing/homelessness, aging, school-aged youth, children from birth to six, health and food. [For background on coordinated funding, see Chronicle coverage: "Despite Concerns, Coordinated Funding OK'd"]

Several representatives from groups supported by coordinated funding spoke during public commentary at the Dec. 7 meeting, thanking the board of its support.

At a Nov. 29 administrative briefing to preview the Dec. 7 agenda, county administrator Verna McDaniel said that when she initially presented the proposed 2012-2013 budget at the board’s Sept. 21 meeting, more than three months remained in the current fiscal year, which ends Dec. 31. She indicated that there was still uncertainty about the county’s financial needs for the remainder of this year.

Also, she said, the county received a repayment of captured taxes from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, and from a settlement with the townships of Ypsilanti and Augusta over a police services lawsuit. [The county received about $242,000 from the DDA, in a payment related to excess capture in the DDA's tax increment financing (TIF) district. That news had been announced in May 2011. The board voted in July 2011 to accept a $749,427 settlement related to the police services lawsuit. The county was paid in August.]

In explaining the reason for the additional funding at the Nov. 29 briefing, board chair Conan Smith noted that there’s increased need for basic human services, like food and housing. He also cited changes in the office of community development (OCD), which was recently awarded a $3 million grant. [The federal grant, administered by OCD, was awarded to the Washtenaw County Sustainable Community project. It's for a project focusing on the Washtenaw Avenue corridor, spanning Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Pittsfield Township and Ypsilanti Township.]

This brief was filed soon after adjournment of the county board’s Dec. 7 meeting. A more detailed report will follow: [link]