Growth increases human service funding, demands |

Growth increases human service funding, demands

Dennis Webb
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Growth in Garfield County will mean more money for local human service agencies.

That’s a good thing, because they need it to keep up with growth in Garfield County.

Rising sales tax revenues in the county will result in the county being able to issue an additional $113,000 in human service grants in 2008. That’s on top of about $572,500 that already has been approved in grants for next year, said Jane McCollor, a member of the grants committee of the county Human Services Commission.

County administrator Ed Green said this is the second year in a row the county has been able to offer two grant cycles in a single year. Last year rising revenues allowed for a second distribution of about $45,000, he said.

The county made its first 2008 distribution this year based on revenue projections county Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain made in mid-summer, Green said. But she since has updated those projections, allowing for the second distribution.

Green said the county’s total sales tax projection for next year now is about $7.2 million, compared to a projection of $6.3 million for this year.

He attributed the increase to rising consumer spending resulting from an “explosive growth in the population” in the county.

“The place is just taking off,” he said.

Although the county also collects additional sales tax, it is expecting to bring in about $3.4 million next year through a 0.75-cent tax voters approved in 1996 to go to human services, the sheriff’s department, the county Extension program, the Public Health office and other uses.

The same factor that is boosting funding for human services agencies also is increasing demand on those agencies.

“All of the growth that the county is experiencing, even in a positive way, economic growth, also has an underlying reality that it brings in additional clients to the human service agencies,” McCollor said.

The impacts of growth tend to outpace growth in government revenues, and nonprofits are left to try to fill in the service gaps, said Debbie Wilde, executive director of YouthZone, a nonprofit that works on problems such as juvenile delinquency and drug use. And the increasing human service grant dollars go only so far, she said.

“There’s a little more money coming in,” she said. “But we’re all seeing increasing needs, so we’re using that up pretty easily.”

She said it would be wrong to think the increasing sales tax revenues mean nonprofits no longer need to raise funds.

“We can’t stop kissing pigs because the tax revenues went up a little,” Wilde said, referring to YouthZone’s annual Kiss-n-Squeal fundraiser.

YouthZone’s client total increased by about 200 this year, to about 1,083, up more than 20 percent. By contrast, its budget grew by $100,000, or 10 percent, to $1.1 million.

Wilde said she would guess that most local nonprofits are seeing their growth in service demands outpacing growth in revenues. The result can be having to limit client numbers or the services provided to them, and stretching staffs thinner while trying not to compromise quality, she said. Both staffing levels and salaries can suffer.

Still, Wilde and McCollor appreciate having a funding source that by its nature increases with growing demands on services.

“You feel like there’s at least some revenue there. That’s positive,” Wilde said.

McCollor praised the 1996 human services ballot measure.

“I think it showed a lot of foresight for the ballot to acknowledge that moneys have to be used for human service agencies,” she said.

Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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