Garfield County commissioner looks to maintain human service funding |

Garfield County commissioner looks to maintain human service funding

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Garfield County commissioners will look to restore funding to this year’s levels for several human service agencies in the county that have been recommended to receive continued funding in 2014 but at reduced levels in many cases.

That will likely mean drawing down the commissioners’ own pot of discretionary grant funds even further, meaning there will be less money for the occasional special grant requests that come along during the course of the year.

That’s the fund where programs ranging from local scouting organizations and extracurricular school programs to nonprofit organizations that don’t fit the human services description typically receive grants from the county.

The special fund has already taken a significant hit as a result of a projected $15 million reduction in general fund property tax revenues next year. What was a $1 million discretionary grant fund in 2012 and $500,000 this year, is recommended in the proposed 2014 budget at $250,000.

Another $50,000 could be taken from that fund to make up the difference for human service agencies, such as the Advocate Safehouse Project, YouthZone and Colorado Mountain College’s Go 2 Work program.

Commissioners, at their Monday meeting, postponed a decision on a recommendation from the county Human Services Commission to award $432,500 worth of grants next year to 31 different nonprofit entities that provide various services in the county.

That’s the same dollar amount for grants handed out this year. But, because there were an additional four agencies requesting grant funds this year, it meant the money got spread a little thin, said County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who sits on both the Human Services Commission and the grants allocation committee.

“It was not an easy decision, and we did end up funding some extra programs,” he said. “That meant there was a little bit less for everyone [that had received grants this year].”

Commissioner Mike Samson suggested waiting to see if the board could find a way to make up the difference for those agencies.

“I feel bad that we have to cut people, and I want to look at this some more before I can make a decision,” Samson said in recommending the county look to its discretionary fund for extra human service dollars.

Commissioners have already agreed to make up some of the difference in human service funding, which comes from a dedicated portion of the county’s 1-cent sales tax.

Sales tax collections are down this year, due mostly to ongoing state withholding of sales tax dollars related to a 2010 court settlement involving overpayment of taxes by energy companies.

County funding for area human service agencies has risen since 2010 when a total of $381,000 was awarded to 21 organizations. The need has increased steadily, however, as total requests came in at more than $648,000 for next year.

County commissioners will continue their review of the 2014 budget at a special meeting today beginning at 8 a.m. On the agenda for discussion will capital budgets for road and bridge projects and other county facilities.

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