TUCSON – Some nonprofit groups believe city budget cuts to their organizations are poorly planned.
The City of Tucson is trying close another large budget gap before the next fiscal year starts in July. Funding for many human services largely comes from federal grants. That money is not drastically reduced next year.
Michael McDonald, CEO of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, said his organization usually receives about $150,000 to $190,000 each year. The proposed amount for next year is zero.
“That’s huge,” McDonald said. “If the city could just figure out a way to close that and not have us take such a hit in one year, give us a few years to adapt.”
The money is used to buy food when stock is low. That is especially important when children are out of school and donations are down.
“The community is really supportive of us during the holidays, and we really appreciate it. And then in May, the national letter carriers, the post office does a big collection for us,” McDonald said. “So that takes us through about midway in the summer. But midway in the summer until school starts, it's pretty tough for child hunger.”
Tucson City Council member Steve Kozachik said rearranging resources is normal, but this plan is unacceptable. Some deserving groups are actually big winners in the budget.
“When new agencies come in, you give them a piece of the pie also,” he said. “But what you don't do is, you don't take somebody else's piece of the pie off the table and hand it to somebody else, especially this late in the budgeting process.”
The Primavera Foundation is scheduled to lose $170,000. That money goes to homeless services including the Greyhound Family Shelter which serves 65 to 91 families a year. The Men's Emergency Shelter helps 1,000 men per year. The money also supports about 3,000 people who use drop-in services like mail to receive medicine and disability payments, according to Peggy Hutchison, the Primavera CEO.
“Because the demand for housing and employment support from Primavera has been going up each year and the city finding continues to decrease, we will have to look at reductions in these critical services unless we are able to identify other sources of funds,” Hutchison said. “This will have a huge impact on our community.”
“People who are using the services at Primavera, people who are using the services at the food bank and Our Family Services are not people who are going to Safeway and buying 20-pound hams to share with their family over Easter,” Kozachik said.