Wednesday, October 17 , 2018, 8:09 pm | Fair 64º

 
 
 
 

Goleta Council Gives $577,000 to Outside Groups Amid Talks to Establish a Cap in Future

It has become routine for Goleta to approve funding requests from local nonprofit agencies during the budget process, but there was friction this year among the City Council members.

Mayor Paula Perotte and councilmen Stuart Kasdin and Kyle Richards talked about the need to put a cap on the funding (which has been around or above $500,000 since 2015) and review the requests, instead of treating the annual asks as an ongoing expense.

Councilmen Roger Aceves and Michael Bennett advocated for the ongoing funding, saying the city has partnerships with nonprofit organizations that provide services the city doesn’t.

The City Council voted unanimously to continue funding at the current request levels — $496,854 — and add another $80,100 to that for next year, with the assumption that a conversation about evaluation criteria and a funding cap will happen before the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Funding for outside agencies is at the council’s discretion and the $576,954 is the largest amount ever, according to city records.

Richards pointed out that the city allocated $163,800 to outside agencies — nonprofits and school districts, mostly — in the 2011-12 year, and now spends more than $500,000 per year.

The city has a “limited bowl of money,” and funding all incoming requests isn’t realistic, he said.

Richards said Goleta shouldn’t be creating a system where outside groups are dependent on city money, and the city shouldn’t continue funding groups only because they are expecting it.

He instead sees the opportunity to use city funding as a stopgap for important community programs or startup funding for a new program worth supporting.

Bennett said most of the funding, though categorized as line items, was for partnerships with organizations such as Girsh Park and the Goleta Union School District’s crossing guard program where the city funds a portion of the operating cost.

“They were never intended to be one-time donations,” he said.

The city’s documentation for these donations has the note “ongoing” in the margins for most of the multi-year requests.

This money doesn’t include Goleta’s Community Development Block Grant funding, which has a separate application and review process.

Richards argued that the CDBG program (which has a budget of about $54,000 for next year) has a more rigorous approval process than these much costlier requests.

“With this program, it feels like this idea of seniority,” he said, with previously funded groups generally getting funding year after year.

Kasdin and Perotte also voiced support for the city setting a dollar amount on its funding for outside agencies and discussing criteria for approval in the future.

Goleta should be cautious because of its own funding uncertainties, Perotte said, mentioning the ongoing Department of Finance litigation over the dissolved Redevelopment Agency and possibility that the city will take ownership of its branch library.

Bennett’s motion to support existing line items for one year was approved unanimously.

Organizations “dependent on this certainly didn’t have any inkling we were going to do this thing differently than we’ve done in the past,” he said.

Council members also approved additional requests of $80,100 to the same organizations for total funding of the following for the 2017-18 year:

» Santa Barbara Unified School District after-school program: $13,000 requested and funded. The program has been funded at $13,000 per year since 2011-12.

» Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness landlord liaison program: $5,500 plus $550 in an additional new request. The program has received money from Goleta since 2015-16.

» Goleta Chamber of Commerce visitor services: $150,000 requested and funded. Since 2013, the city has contracted with the chamber to implement and run an independent visitor services program, including the Go Goleta website, promoting tourism in Goleta as well as in-market promotion, marketing and branding. The program initially was started with $100,000 in seed funding for its first two years and was raised to $150,000 in 2015 and 2016 as the city’s Tourism Business Improvement District revenue has grown.

» COAST Safe Routes to School: $6,000 requested and funded. The program has received Goleta money since 2007-08.

» Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens: $50,000 requested and funded. The city gave the organization the same amount in 2015-16 and the current fiscal year.

» Foundation for Girsh Park: $100,000 requested and funded. The city has been contributing $100,000 to the foundation every year since 2007-08.

» Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation: It made no request last year but this year wanted money toward its healing garden and the City Council voted to give $4,000 for its planned restorative garden.

» Goleta Valley Historical Society Arboretum Project: $100,000 requested and funded. The city has given the organization $50,000 in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and starting giving $100,000 per year in 2015.

» Goleta Valley Community Center senior program: $25,000 requested and funded. The nonprofit has received the same amount each year since 2012-13.

» Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara warming center: $5,000 requested and funded, and an additional $25,000 that was requested to open a Goleta site this year. The organization has received some funding from Goleta since 2010-11.

» Community Action Commission South Coast Gang Task Force: $22,854 requested and funded. Similar amounts were paid in 2010-2013 and since 2015.

» Goleta Union School District crossing guard program: $20,000 requested and funded. The same amount was given in 2015-16 and the current year.

New requests funded for next year include:

» South Coast Railroad Museum: $25,000 funded of its $50,000 request for operational costs.

» Goleta Old Town Community Association: $25,000 funded of its $50,000 request for ongoing support for community-building events.

» Salvation Army shelter beds for Goleta homeless residents: $25,550 requested and funded. 

The City Council will adopt a budget in June and the proposed operating budget is $24.8 million for next year.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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