Teller community groups face leaner times

belt-tightening_645x400Rick Langenberg:

Local community groups and area nonprofits face much sterner competition and fewer dollars in their bid for investment monies from the Woodland Park government. And if a group has a large budget and big salaries, organization leaders might as well forget about receiving any financial assistance from city hall.

This lesson in WP fiscal reality was relayed loud and clear last week with a key city advisory committee rejecting the funding applications of several well-known organizations, such as Habit for Humanity and Prospect Home Care and Hospice. They were among five groups that got the boot during the council’s annual community investment allocation hearing. Others that got the funding snub were the Woodland Park Panther Recycling Program, Mountain Top Cycling Club and Colorado Mountain Rangers.

Altogether, the city council, which abided by the recommendations of the community investment review board, agreed to only dish out $28,500.This is a smaller funding pot than past years. This leaner allotment didn’t come close to meeting the expectations of local charities and nonprofits, which altogether asked for $58,537. A total of 23 groups asked for money, with the city opting to fund 18 organizations. And in nearly every case, the city reduced its funding levels to the various groups. The largest allotment to a single group was for $3,000, which went to the Ute Pass Symphony Guild and The Storehouse.

Mayor Pro Tem Carrol Harvey contended that not much extra money was available in 2015. “It was a tough year,” said Harvey. “We were a little bit lean.” Harvey said she hoped the city could offer more funds next year.

During the 2015 budget deliberations, City Manager David Buttery warned the council that it had to stick to a smaller amount of community investment allocations with no leeway due to Woodland Park’s pressing funding commitments.

With a leaner funding environment for community dollars, Councilman John Schafer, who serves on the community investment review board, stated that the group’s main focus was to assist small organizations that could benefit from the city’s program. As a result, he noted that such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and Prospect Home Care, which had big budgets for salaries, got the short end of the stick. For other groups, such as the WP school’s recycling program, he stated that the city would try to help them in other ways.

Darwin Naccarato, the chairman of the review board, echoed similar sentiments. He noted that most of the city’s community funding efforts was very small. He also hinted that the group may try to alter its application process for the 2016 funding allotment season.

Even with a leaner pot, no representatives from any groups complained about the process, which began in Dec. 2007. At the time, the council was bombarded with funding requests and decided to take the politics out of the scenario by forming an advisory committee to evaluate the various bids for community dollars and to develop more defined criteria for the allocations.

Several council members also complimented the various groups for the job they do for the community. “You make a big difference,” stated Harvey.