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Social service entities hold close to current line in county funding requests

May 22, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Outside requests for funding from the Fremont County Commission were generally the same or slightly higher this year, with area social service agencies citing an increased demand for services combined with a decrease in revenue from other sources.

Child Development Services business manager Brenda Leonardi said CDS has seen a 10 percent drop in funding from the state and a 5 percent cut in federal dollars this year. CDS provides education to 280 children with special needs from birth to age five.

"Our overall budget is less this year than in past years," Leonardi told commissioners this month.

"I think hard times are hitting all of us in Fremont County and across the state."

Leonardi asked the commission for $24,000 in funding for the coming year. The organization requested the same amount in 2013 but only received $22,800 from the commission.

Commissioners will hold budget hearings over the next couple of weeks before approving a budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1.

More money

Lander Senior Center executive director Jane Nolde also requested more money this year than her agency received for fiscal year 2013. She asked for $25,000 from the commission -- the same amount she requested last year but $4,150 more than the senior center actually received.

"You're asking for a twenty percent increase," Commissioner Travis Becker said.

Nolde said the money would be used to match federal and state grants. Her organization provides meals, social activities and transportation to seniors, and Nolde said the center recently had to reduce its hours to save money.

"Our goal is to try to keep (seniors) active, and we do need funds from the county to help," Nolde said.

Representatives of the Fremont County Alcohol Crisis Center asked for $100,000 for fiscal year 2014, up $5,000 from the $95,000 it received in fiscal year 2013.

"Basically what we wanted to do is stay within the same budget," crisis center board chairman Ron Blumenshine said during his meeting with commissioners.

In a written request, crisis center director Lisa Amos said her organization's staff size has not changed, but funding levels have gone down and more clients continue to come in with greater needs. She said she would use the county's money to pay for services and to offset increased employee wages and benefits.

According to its proposed budget, the crisis center plans to receive $78,000 in cash and in-kind donations from the city of Riverton. Amos added that the crisis center is undergoing a merger with Volunteers of America Northern Rockies, a Christian social services organization based in Sheridan.

The Dubois Boys and Girls Club asked for $1,000 more this year for a total of $10,000 from the commission. Grants and financial administration manager Megan O'Brien said the club, which relies solely on grants and donations, lost some of its grant funding last year. In a written request, O'Brien said the group anticipates losing $197,000 in revenue but hopes to raise $65,000 more to offset that loss. She added that the organization is looking for new sources of funding as well.

Injury Prevention Resources executive director Noel Cooper asked for $27,000 from the commission -- $1,350 more than IPR received in fiscal 2013. According to Cooper's written budget request, the organization expects $278,000 in revenue in fiscal 2014.

Cooper said funding from the Wyoming Department of Transportation has gone down, but he hopes to expand programs and generate more income through user fees.

Injury Prevention Resources provides safety education for youth as well as supervised probation and monitoring for people arrested for driving under the. Cooper said the majority of the county's money would go toward IPR's DUI programs, though some would contribute to IPR's child car seat distribution program.

Same amount

Three agencies requested the same amount of funding from the commission this year: the Fremont Counseling Services, the Fremont County Good Samaritan Center, and the local Foster Grandparent Program.

FCS executive director Jerry McAdams on May 6 requested $10,000 for his nonprofit organization, just like last year. In his written request, McAdams said the $10,000 would cover half of the costs to develop a new program he would like to implement in Fremont County.

"What I'm wanting to do ... is to put a case manger in the court basically the whole time," he said. "(People ordered to seek treatment) will not leave the without having a substance abuse assessment."

He hopes the program will be self-sufficient by its second year and will not require funding from the county. If he does not receive the requested funding from the commission, McAdams said he would look elsewhere for help.

Pete Dvorak of the Good Samaritan Center again asked for $5,000 from the county, and he said he has applied for a federal grant that could bring $32,000 to the organization.

He said his group has seen an increase in clients who have lost their jobs due to injuries, or who are suffering from mental health issues, but the center plans to operate on almost the same budget as last year. He said he and other regular staff members will be paid the same salary this year, but stipends for other workers will be reduced.

The Foster Grandparent Program vice president Jeri Kennah and foster grandma Barb Starrett on May 7 requested $3,000 for their program, the same as the year before.

The program is based in Casper, but Starrett said four elderly tutors, or "grandparents," are located in Lander and Riverton, where they go in to school to work with students. She said the tutors are paid $2.65 for their work.

"Your Fremont County dollars will go a long way," Kennah said.

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