Town Cuts Nonprofit Funding By 20 Percent

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Town funding for a handful of Payson nonprofit organizations will continue to dwindle in the face of economic hard times in the community.

The Payson Council last week approved contracts with half a dozen nonprofit agencies that cut funding by 20 percent each, the third year in a five-year phase-out of town backing for the community groups.

The council debated whether to get even tougher on the community groups, since some of the groups had not filed the required quarterly reports detailing what they had done with last year's grant money. Town Manager Debra Galbraith promised to include in the contracts reporting requirements, which the town staff would enforce.

Groups funded included Rim Country Literacy ($2,800) Program, Time Out Inc. domestic violence shelter and thrift store ($2,800), Payson Helping Payson's disaster assistance for local families ($2,000), Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona's mentoring program ($1,600) and St. Vincent DePaul Society's food bank ($2,000). All told, those groups will get just more than $11,000 -- a 20-percent reduction from last year.

However, the council did decide to continue the reduced funding. The groups will get a 20-percent cut next year year and another 20-percent cut the year after that.

Earlier, the council had discussed cutting off the money altogether as part of its effort to balance the budget. This year, Payson's sales tax and property tax revenues remained essentially flat, and impact fee revenue dropped sharply -- leading to an essentially flat budget. However, the town's revenue ended up way under the approximately 10-percent increase that had been forecast. As a result, the town spent its entire reserve fund, and to balance the budget had to cancel most capital projects.

The groups getting funding included:

• $2,800 for Rim Country Literacy: This volunteer tutoring program in reading and writing provides about 4,500 volunteer hours annually to help both children and adults improve their reading and writing. Contact: (928) 468-7257

• $2,800 for Time Out Inc.: A domestic violence shelter for women and children that also runs a thrift store.

• $2,000 for Payson Helping Payson: A group that provides assistance to Rim Country families during disasters, which helps about 100 families annually. John Zilisch, Coordinator, (928) 468-9028

• $1,600 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona: A group that matches adult mentors with kids who need strong adult role models in their lives. Robert Henley, Director, (928) 468-8375

• $2,000 for St. Vincent De Paul Society: A group that operates a local food bank. Richard Krause, (928) 472-7210 or (928) 474-9104

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