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Funding cuts hit home

Autumn Phillips

— The United Way thermometer in front of Steamboat Springs City Hall is a little taller this year. City and state budget cuts have left non-profits hurting this year.

When the United Way polled groups around Routt County about their needs, it was surprised by the numbers that came back.

Of the 26 agencies that United Way of Routt County funds, 10 had expectations for budget cuts and most were asking the United Way for an increase in their funding just to keep their programs afloat. The largest hit came to the Visiting Nurse Association, which lost $100,000 in state funding.

To fill the gap, the United Way hopes to raise $65,000 above the $300,000 raised last year.

“City Council decided to be conservative this year,” said United Way executive director Millie Beall. “Not knowing what the economy will do, they decided to hold funding at last year’s level.”

Typically, she said, agencies count on increases.

Beyond city funding, many agencies also rely on money from the state of Colorado, but Gov. Bill Owens’ administration made $46 million in line item cuts for the 20022003 budget, citing a severe drop in state revenues.

That included a $10 million cut for Tony Grampsas Youth Services funding statewide.

The Family Development Center in Steamboat expected $50,000 of that money this year.

“Child-care programs went on the chopping block,” said Family Development Center Executive Director Tami Havener.

The state also is considering an end to its annual matching of federal child care and development block grants that provide, among other things, tuition assistance to families that use the Discovery Learning Center preschool program at the Family Development Center.

The Family Development Center typically sees $80,000 from the block grant, but if the state decides not to match the federal money, the grant will no longer fund programs in the state.

The Family Development Center receives its United Way funding via First Impressions, a grant-writing entity that applies on behalf of all United Way-funded early childhood education agencies in Routt County.

First Impressions lost $20,000 in money from budget cuts this year.

The total loss of funding to Routt County, according to the United Way, is an estimated $475,000.

Paul Bialek, executive director Partners of Routt County, a one on one mentoring program, decided not to ask for more than the $6,000 the agency received last year.

“Because of the cuts, we know what the United Way Board is facing,” he said.

According to Bialek, the budget cuts will effect all human service organizations.

Those who relied heavily on the state will turn to granting agencies whose funds will quickly run dry.

Advocates Against Battering and Abuse has not lost any state dollars, but faces cuts from grant sources that do not have as much money to give as in previous years.

“For one funding source, it is directly related to the past year’s economy,” said executive director Diane Moore. Advocates applied for $16,500 in United Way funding for next year.

As of last week the United Way of Routt County had reached 25 percent of its $365,000 goal for the 2003 campaign.

To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com


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