Local groups adjust to cuts
Some more dependent on city funding
From budget cuts to pay cuts, some community-based service and arts groups in Chico will take a hard hit if they don’t receive as much city funding as they hoped.
Last fiscal year, as part of his deficit-reduction strategy, City Manager Dave Burkland recommended that the City Council cut funding for community-based organizations by 10 percent. This year he’s recommending further cuts of about the same amount, said Cris Carroll, the city’s community development manager. The precise allocations will be released Tuesday (June 16) as part of the council’s all-day budget workshop.
Organizations throughout the community have already requested a certain amount of money, but few are getting as much as they hoped. While some organizations rely solely on city funding, others are looking elsewhere.
For many years, the city has allocated a certain amount of funding to a variety of groups that provide services—from feeding the homeless and helping at-risk kids to presenting museum exhibits—that the council deems valuable and the city is unable to provide.
With private giving down because of the recession, public funding takes on all the more importance. Take Catalyst Domestic Violence Services: Donors have been sending $10 and an apology letter that they can’t afford more.
“That’s how much really wonderful support we get through the community,” Anastacia Snyder, the agency’s executive director, said. “My fear, though, is that it’s not going to be enough.”
With cuts coming from the state and feds, Catalyst is going to need a lot more than small donations to fund the life-saving services it provides.
As of now, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed eliminating state funding of domestic-violence services. If this happens, Catalyst will lose one-third of its funding. The organization—Butte County’s only provider of services for victims of domestic violence—would have to lay off staff members, and services would be jeopardized.
These cuts could not come at a worse time. Need for the group’s services has gone up by 28 percent. Already, the shelter has reached its capacity and has had to find alternative options for 26 families.
Fortunately, these budget cuts will not affect the funding for Catalyst’s new shelter now under construction, Snyder said. Her worry concerns how they will pay for operations when the building is finished.
The city has offered to fund Catalyst in the amount of $15,999 this fiscal year, a decrease of about $700 from last year, Snyder said. “If we lose that $16,000 on top of the proposed state funding, it would be detrimental to our agency,” Snyder said. “These cuts jeopardize the lives of women and children, and you cannot put a price on that.”
Fluorescent orange, yellow and pink flags wave vigorously at Fifth and Orange streets to draw the attention of passersby. The Chico Art Center has yet to discover if its new attractions will work, but the city is certainly noticing the center, proposing that it receive about $7,000 less than it was hoping for.
That hurts, but center leaders are still thankful that the city is providing the bulk of their funding.
“The big thing for us is that if we don’t get our funding, we just won’t exist,” said Erin Wells, president of the CAC’s board of directors. “The city really does make us happen.”
The $13,000 it’s anticipating to get will go toward gallery shows, art classes for adults and children, and the development of the group’s Web site, Wells said. The biggest expense is the annual Open Studios Art Tour, during which artists open their studios to the public for visiting.
Though the center has two paid part-time positions, it is run largely by about 20 volunteers.
Without funding, the center would have to raise the cost of art classes and membership dues and have artists pay more for showcasing their art in the gallery, Wells said. All of these options are now being considered, but the board wants to keep the art center as affordable as possible.
“Not having funding would be a big hit,” Wells said. “We would learn really fast how to make do without, but it would be very difficult.”
Chico Theatre Co. is funded through ticket sales, donations and money supplied by the city. The city dollars mainly go toward the children’s theater program and pay a portion of the director’s salary.
Luckily, the theater has not been hit too badly this year: It expects to receive $8,600 instead of the $10,000 it requested.
“It would be a tragedy to not have this money,” Mark Edson, the theater’s managing director, said. “It does so much for the kids. It really builds self-confidence, which I think will affect the rest of their lives.”