CARBONDALE — Community agencies funded by the Carbondale City Council could see fewer dollars coming their way when the city completes its budget in May.
At its Feb. 13 meeting, the council discussed reducing the amount of funds approved to such agencies by 5 percent, which would save the city $18,000. Such organizations include Attucks Community Service, Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale, I Can Read! and The Women’s Center.
Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams said the reduction was not an indictment on the agencies and the work they are doing.
“We recognize that everybody is doing great work,” he said. “It is simply for the sake of what we consider fairness with what we are proposing in our own city budget.”
Several council members expressed concern about reducing the level of funding, but pointed to reductions in funding by the state as the reason such action is needed.
“I wish we could fund them at the level we did last year,” Councilman Adam Loos said. “The reality is the state of Illinois has committed political malpractice for several years.
“They have essentially stolen money out of the city’s budget. We rely on that and we just can’t fill all of the gaps they have left.”
Councilwoman Jessica Bradshaw said she is relieved that the council can provide the amount of funding it can in this economic climate.
“We would like to give away tons of money,” she said. “I am sure the organizations out there are feeling the same pinch.”
Councilman Jeff Doherty was opposed to the idea of reduction. He said the council is talking about a reduction of $18,000, which he felt isn't a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. He said organizations taking the reduction are ones that work with at-risk youth.
“I am not in favor of reducing the funding from last year,” he said. “My vote will be to maintain the funding level from last year,”
Mayor Mike Henry said the city continues to see revenue from sales tax revenue drop because the city just doesn’t have the amount of people it has had in the past. Additionally, he said enrollment at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will most likely take another hit in the fall.
“The state took more than $500,000 out of our budget when they passed their so-called budget,” he said. “We didn’t have anywhere near that much surplus budgeted.”
The mayor said he believes the city and university will rebound soon.
“I think we will come back, but we are doing to have a couple of lean years,” he said.
Councilman Tom Grant said everybody feels a pinch when the state decides to take money out of the city’s pocket.
“It affects us all, but we really have to be strong now and band together with whatever we can with money or time or expertise to keep this community alive and well and growing,” he said.