- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Nonprofit agencies provide invaluable services, but not without the help of county funding, leaders of those agencies said during a meeting Monday evening.
The Vital Community Connectors coalition, made up of about a dozen and a half nonprofit organizations in St. Mary’s County, organized to make their case to continue to be included in the county government’s budget. County funding to many of the agencies was trimmed last year.
“We’re all in this together,” George Hurlburt, a defense contractor and Rotarian, said.
For every $1 the county government contributes, the nonprofits return more than $23 directly related to the value of services and programs offered to the community, he said.
Many of the agencies also bring in additional tourism dollars that are spent at local businesses, he said.
Hurlburt said that nonprofit organizations provide more than 2,200 jobs in the county. “It’s about responsibility. It’s not about charity,” Hurlburt said.
He said that contributing county dollars to nonprofits is an efficient way to deliver services. Many of the agencies rely on the county dollars to receive matching state or federal grants.
Hurlburt and Joe Anderson, VCC spokesperson and a former county commissioner, both said that it is worth examining how the agencies are funded — for example, move to a performance-based funding — but that they should not be arbitrarily cut from the budget.
Commission President Jack Russell (D) and Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) were in attendance Monday evening.
“We’ve supported the nonprofits in the past and we will continue to do so,” Russell said. “We’ve got a bright future.”
The county commissioners plan to look at funding for nonprofits during budget work sessions next week.
The commissioners included $1.3 million in the current budget to 26 noncounty agencies, a reduction of about $109,000 from the previous year. The amounts range from $500 for the county Forest Conservation District Board to $340,000 for Walden, a behavior health service program that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Anderson said that the groups provide important public services and programs and have a great economic impact on the county. He said he hopes that they can at least receive the same amount of funding from the county next year as they did this year.
“We are better for them being in this community, even if you don’t use their services,” Anderson said.
The Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy provides legal services to those in need, including people who have filed protective orders against spouses or others.
“There are jobs that county government do that are vital. There are jobs that we do that are equally vital,” Diana Donahue, an attorney who works with the organization, said.
County funding to the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions, which hosts a Juneteenth celebration in Lexington Park, was cut 20 percent this year to $4,000. A spokesperson for the group said that the event gives families in Lexington Park and surrounding areas access to health screenings, draws in visitors from the region to support local businesses, and celebrates African-American heritage.