Advocates from non-profits that serve East Providence residents pled with city council members Tuesday night to alter the proposed Community Development Grant Block (CDBG) budget to include additional funding for social programs.
According to David Bachrach, community development coordinator, the state-appointed budget commission asked planning department members to fund zero public service programs and put more focus on economic development.
The fiscal year 2012-2013 CDBG award is $674,175; there was a 24 percent cut in the federally funded grants, according to Bachrach.
"There's a huge oversubscription to these funds than what we have available," added Bachrach.
In the proposed budget, the planning department requested $809,284 for economic development projects; $461,284 of that request was approved in the draft budget. About $135,000 is allocated toward CDBG administrative costs.
Members of public service agencies applied for grants, requesting a total of $189,297. Some of those agencies who have come to depend on the annual contribution are the East Bay Center, Family Services of RI, Day One, the Boys and Girls Club and the Women's Center.
Some council members had a problem with the delegation of funds.
"We are losing our way...We are forgetting who we are as a people in the community," Councilor William Conley Jr. said.
Small business owners, he continued, want to stay in communities that bolster economic development through social advancement.
"We could become the city without a soul," he said. "That is what we are becoming if we chose to follow this road map."
City Manager Peter Graczykowski said the budget's allocation of funds could change, depending on how the budget process levels out. Bachrach said the council's thoughts "resonated" with him and he would go back to include more funding for social programs.
For a more in-depth account of the city council's discussion regarding CDBG funds and the social programs that requested grants, read reported live from .