Thursday, April 29, 2010

County Partnering with Non-Profits on Capital Needs

By Patrick Lacefield.

The six capital projects for non-profit agencies recommended for funding by the County Executive in FY11 are worthy projects that will enhance the quality of life for Montgomery County residents for many years to come. Each one of them will leverage the County contribution many times over by bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars in State and private matching funds.

The County has wisely and effectively used the model of cost sharing for capital projects for many years. Typically, a community service project operated by County government or a non profit community service agency will construct a strategic fund raising plan that is comprised of State funds, County funds, private funds, and, in some cases, as with Glen Echo Park, there will also be a federal role. Most projects therefore go through the rigors of review by several funding partners.

There will always be debate regarding the relative value of a project, but the County has been helping non-profit partners with capital needs for years.

One relevant fact is that these projects would be bond-funded in the capital budget. Hence there is no competition with expenditures either made or not made in the operating budget.

CHI Centers, Inc is a forty year old non profit organization serving people with Developmental Disabilities. It operates within a County-owned former public school which badly needs renovation and repair. More than 90 percent of the people served are funded by the State and county government. The State has provided $600,000 with a required match. The Executive is recommending the County assist with the match by providing $200,000. The private supporters of CHI, Inc. will raise the rest of the money.

The Ivymount School has been educating Montgomery County Public School referred children with Autism and other severe disabilities for nearly forty years in a closed County-owned school building. Also in the building is the Beverly Farms Child Care Center which provides child care for some Ivymount and many neighborhood children. The demand for the Ivymount School services is increasing and a renovation is needed to allow it to expand while maintaining the child care space. The State has provided $175,000 to help with the one million dollar plus costs and the CE is recommending $100,000 to help match the State funds. The Ivymount School is raising the other funds.

The Girl Scouts of the National Capital Area are developing a camp in the Burtonsville area of the County to serve thousands of girls. The State has awarded the Girl Scouts $140,000 to build facilities at their camp. These funds require a local match. The CE has recommended $100,000 to match the State funds to enhance the camp. Some may argue that supporting the Girl Scouts Camp is not important. The Girl Scouts play an important role in youth development, especially among low income youth.

The Jewish Foundation for Group Homes is a long-time partner of the County in working on transitional programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. The County would contribute $50,000 toward a project of repairs, renovations, and equipment purchases.

The Olney Theater and the Arts Facility CIP are designed to support important capital needs in the arts in the County.

The purpose behind the Arts Facility CIP is to set-aside $1.5 million a year for grants to County arts institutions’ capital needs. Far from being a “slush fund”, the County Council makes the final decision. This year, the County Executive has recommended $600,000 to match an identical State amount to get the ball rolling on the renovation of the Old Blair Auditorium and $500,000 for Olney Theatre. The Council will decide whether or not to accept those recommendations.

By the way, contrary to the blog entry, there is no money for police helicopters or their pilots in the budget. The supposed MCGEO “study” on management salaries is totally discredited. And the Costco project (supported by the County Executive and a majority of the Council) is projected for 2012 – and so has nothing to do with this budget year. Our analysis clearly demonstrates that it would enhance our tax base, create hundreds of jobs, and help in the revitalization of Wheaton.

Patrick Lacefield is the Director of the Office of Public Information.