Three days after submitting the fiscal year 2015 budget to the City Council, Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s administration is asking council members to amend the structure by which the city will fund organizations through performance contracts.
Stimpson had originally proposed cutting more than $2 million in performance contracts from the city’s budget and instead give $1.2 million to the United Way and the Community Foundation of South Alabama to award to various organizations that in the past had relied on funds directly from the city.
In a letter to Council President Gina Gregory today, Stimpson asked the council to reverse the move and allow the city to use that $1.2 million to fund the various organizations in the 2015 budget.
In the letter, Stimpson wrote that the United Way and the Community Foundation have been unfairly criticized since the announcement was made.
“It was not my intent to have these fine organizations called out onto the carpet and have their integrity questioned,” he wrote. “The unfair barbs being thrown at both of these organizations and their leadership are ridiculous and unnecessary. We cannot afford to affect their business models, fundraising campaigns, or the incredible impact they have in our community.”
Originally, the administration took into account several factors to determine how to divide the funding for the various groups, Stimpson’s Chief of Staff Colby Cooper said. Factors considered included the level of funding the city had previously given various groups, the impact the organizations have on the community and whether or not the groups increased salaries for employees.
“My team spent months evaluating the requests and has prepared the attached recommendations for the City Council to consider as amendments to the 2015 budget,” Stimpson wrote. “This is our best effort. We feel confident that our recommendations are fair.”
The breakdown is as follows:
Bay Area Food Bank, $40,000
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of South Alabama, $40,000
Boys and Girls Club of South Alabama, $125,000
Child Advocacy Center, $100,000
Distinguished Young Women, $50,000
Drug Education Council, $10,000
Goodwill Easter Seals, $15,000
Gulf Coast Exploreum, $150,000
Housing First, $100,000
Mobile Area Education Foundation, $100,000
Mobile Arts Council, $35,000
Mobile Azalea Trail, $7,000
Mobile Ballet, $10,000
Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, $20,000
Mobile Bay Veterans Commission, $4,000
Mobile Botanical Gardens, $10,000
Mobile International Festival, $10,000
Mobile Opera, $10,000
Mobile Symphony, $35,000
Mobile Theater Guild, $4,000
Mobile United, $10,000
National African American Archives, $20,000
People United to Advance the Dream, $10,000
SARPC – Agency on Aging, $30,000
The Mobile Pops, $5,000
Stimpson remained adamant that the city’s commitment would be for one year and would serve as a way to wean these benevolent organizations off of public funding. In the letter he encouraged citizens to get involved in funding these groups, as taxpayer money could be better used to fix problems within the city’s “infrastructure, parks, streets and sidewalks.”
“I will be asking the citizens of Mobile to rally and get behind the organizations that do God’s work here in our city – organizations that bring us a quality of life that is unparalleled and help make Mobile the special place it is,” Stimpson wrote. “I believe the city’s core functions are: public safety, public works, city finance, strategic planning and economic development. The city should not be a major funder of nonprofit organizations when it cannot take care of its obligations to all of its citizens.”
In all, performance contracts were cut by almost $2.1 million compared to last year. The difference was added to the capital budget, which increased by 400 percent over last year.
The increase in the capital fund would help the city fix more than 800 different problem areas, Cooper said. These are areas that citizens complained about and were verified by city staff, he said.