Council faces potential shortfall in service organization funding

By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

How to make decisions on funding service organizations was discussed by the Pagosa Springs Town Council at a special meeting on May 13.

According to agenda documentation, nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply annually to the town for special funding.

The town has two different “pots” of money within its General Fund, service organization funding and economic development/council initiatives, Town Manager Andrea Phillips explained.

Within the council initiatives/economic development fund there is $100,000, according to Phillips.

“We have not made any applications for that, yet, other than some fiber breaks that we had to repair,” Phillips said.

Any nonprofits that apply for funding within the three priority areas — early childhood education, broadband services and affordable and workforce housing — can be funded from that fund, Phillips added.

“The service organizations is basically everyone else. We have two funding cycles, we’ve already decided on the first funding cycle,” she said, adding that a decision on the second funding cycle would be made at council’s next regular meeting, which will be tonight at 5 p.m.

Agenda documentation notes that the town received seven funding applications for a total of $245,950.

Council will use an evaluation sheet to award points and funding amounts to each organization, agenda documentation notes.

Within the service organization fund, the town only has $23,451 available out of the budgeted $87,144, she added.

Funding budgeted for service organizations is based on 3 percent of projected sales tax revenue.

According to Town Clerk April Hessman, the first round of funding for service organizations has been made and that funding is divided into quarters.

Each quarter, service organizations receive a portion of the funding that was allotted, Hessman explained.

However, some service organizations have been told by town staff that they potentially won’t be receiving fourth quarter funding based on sales tax, Hessman explained.

“I feel like there was some organizations who were awarded funds in the first round that now potentially may not get all those funds,” council member Shari Pierce said. “I feel like we should, when we’re doing this funding, maybe be able to go back to that first round of awards and say if we would really want those organizations to receive the full amount of funding.”

Pierce used the example of Rise Above Violence, explaining that she believes that organization is “providing a very vital service” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I personally feel like I would like to see them have all of the funding the council intended them to have and not have that potentially cut back,” she said.

Mayor Don Volger explained that the funding was based on “reasonable projections” that have since been affected by COVID-19 and the anticipated lack of sales tax revenue.

“At least we’ll have more of an indication once we get into the fall,” Volger said. “Hopefully by the fourth quarter, or before the end of the year, we can make some adjustments.”

Later, Volger explained that he believes the town should fulfill the first round of funding.

If the town does not have enough money to do so, it should evaluate which service organizations would be of a higher priority to get their fourth-quarter funding, he explained.

For the newer applications for second-round funding, Volger suggested it would be “easier” to explain to them that the town does not have the revenue to allocate.

“However, if we can go ahead and rate them and say if revenue projections come in higher, then we will be able to go ahead and provide some, if not all of the money if we can take care of the first-round applicants first,” Volger said.

 According to Hessman, every organization that applied in the first round knew that there was a second cycle of funding available to their respective organization should there be funding left.

“Some of them didn’t apply, waiting for second cycle when they had a better plan in place perhaps,” she said.

Volger suggested that for council’s meeting tonight that council rate each service organization and determine what to do when funding comes in lower than expected.

Council will also be making a decision on the three priority areas regarding council initiatives/economic development. 

 

This story was posted on May 21, 2020.