published Friday, March 4th, 2011

Agencies ask city for money after years of cuts


by Cliff Hightower
Budget Request Summary
Budget Request Summary

Three nonprofit agencies, who have seen their budgets cut by Chattanooga the last three years, came before the City Council on Thursday night asking that at least some of their funding be restored.

“Over a three-year period, 2007 to 2010, our funding dropped 70 percent,” said Colleen Combs, executive director of Alexian Brothers Senior Neighbors.

The City Council conducted a budget hearing Thursday night for a few of the nonprofit agencies that annually request funding from the city.

The council will continue holding budget meetings on Tuesday morning and Thursday nights for the next month.

Allied Arts, Alexian Brothers Senior Neighbors and Urban League made their cases Thursday night in front of the council’s Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee, which is made up of all the sitting council members.

Allied Arts asked the council for $191,000 in the 2011-12 fiscal year budget, while Alexian Brothers Senior Neighbors requested $24,000 and Urban League asked for $50,000. All three requests were more than the agencies received from the city from the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Council members peppered Allied Arts and Alexian Brothers Senior Neighbors with questions.

Dan Bowers, executive director of Allied Arts, told council members he has seen funding go from $255,000 to $161,000 in three years.

“It’s gone down since 2007,” Councilman Jack Benson replied. “Unfortunately, our revenue has gone down.”

Council members told Bowers he should also look to other cities for help. Bowers said he has made presentations to three other municipalities and planned on going to more.

FUNDING REQUESTS

Three agencies presented their funding requests to Chattanooga Thursday night. The requests are:

• Allied Arts: $191,000

• Alexian Brothers Senior Neighbors: $24,000

• Urban League: $50,000

Combs said funding for Alexian Brothers Senior Neighbors has gone from $58,000 three years ago to $17,700 this year. It has meant her staff going from 12 employees to 10, she said.

Councilwoman Carol Berz, chairwoman of the committee, said she wondered if there may be some duplication of services between the city and Senior Neighbors. Combs explained her objectives are different from the city’s.

“The centers we operate are not really for those with transportation,” she said. “I don’t think there’s really duplication.”

Warren Logan, executive director of the Urban League, presented last and asked for $50,000, up $10,000 from last year’s requests. His organization helps the disadvantaged in the area through education, health and social programs.

Council members had limited questions, but heaped praise on the Urban League.

“This is one of the best investments we make,” Councilman Peter Murphy said.

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