|RP cuts back on funding CSOs
SCAYD, COTS and Rebuild Together to get less money
By Jud Snyder
Rohnert Park’s City Council made it official Tuesday night when they slashed the funding for three major Community Service Organizations (CSO) they normally funded every year. They are Sonoma County Youth and Adult Development (SCAYD), Committee for the Shelterless (COTS) and Rebuilding Together Rohnert Park-Cotati.
Blame it on Jerry Brown. When the governor persuaded the state legislature to dismantle Redevelopment Agencies and Community Development (CDC) offices in all cities, RP lost $5 million to Sacramento from its redevelopment funds. This money was used to help the state in the fight to lessen its multibillion-dollar budget deficit. A “successor agency” along with an oversight committee was set up by RP to handle the remnants. The story broke in The Voice on page one of the June 29 issue.
In an interesting sidelight, Betsy Strauss, former RP city attorney, was hired as “outside legal counsel” to the dissolved CDC and its successor agency. Strauss worked with the Graton Tribe’s plans for a casino and the city to draft the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) during those tumultuous days of October 2003.
The only city councilman present back then and still on the council is current Mayor Jake Mackenzie. His vote against the MOU nine years ago was the only dissent.
Tuesday night’s CSO fund slashing was swift and wordless. The list was on the council’s lengthy consent calendar, and none of the four council members raised any questions about any of the issues listed. The vote was 4-0, as Councilman Joe Callinan was absent.
No one from the three CSO organizations was present in the sparse audience.
SCAYD had requested $130,000 from the city to support its work, but this request was cut back to $46,000; COTS asked for $88,000, but the city recommended $33,000; Rebuilding Together hoped for $70,000, but this figure was cut to $21,000.
These reduced totals are all from the city’s Housing Trust Fund and its $240,000 “treasury.”
In a staff report from City Manager Gabe Gonzalez and Economic Development Director Linda Babonis, they do not recommend using the city’s “beleaguered General Fund” to boost totals to the CSOs. Their report added, “There are only two viable options: using Housing Trust Funds or do not provide financial assistance to the CSOs in the 2012-13 budget year.”
There’s hope for a few additional dollars for the CSOs. The city’s finance staff has held onto $40,000, money used for “housing contingencies.”
If the state budget “trailer bill” to the budget holds firm and Rohnert Park “will not incur other costs for housing-related matters,” this $40,000 will go to the CSO organizations.