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Proposed Budget Slashes Aid to Social Service Non-Profits

In a draft budget, the planning department allocated most of its available Community Development Block Grant funds to pay for economic development programs and administrative costs.

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 .

Arthur Dolloff April 06, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I have a problem with the councils reasoning in this matter. You see Mr. Bachrach has used funds to take property off the tax rolls to elevate a family trust fund from paying taxes, and then spent more money to have the properties tested for contamination after the fact. We are now waiting for the engineers’ results to see how much more it will cost us to remediate the site before it can be turned into a vacant lot in the middle of Riverside. Probably will become a parking lot. Obviously there is little need for the retail space planned for this area, and surely there are no funds to finish this project. So my question is who is really running this city, surely there seems to be no leader with any common sense. We seem to be spending money in all the wrong places. Sure it would be grand if there was a unique waterfront in the city. Maybe a police substation in the abandoned property I just mentioned would go a long way to ending the motorcycle noise problem that the police can or do not remedy. The Mayor has posted his “hours” available to the public, what we really need is a council that takes the public interest seriously. Not using their positions as newly acquired postings on face book to glamorize their own self important images. These block grants have in the past helped many projects support a more human interest in the city. Not that there is money floating around, well maybe not for real needs, there sure seems to be plenty for narcissistic needs.

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