County awards service funds

Centro Latino gets county money for
the first time.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:25 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

After one amendment to increase funding possibilities for Centro Latino, the Boone County Community Services Advisory Commission approved its 2005 funding recommendations Tuesday night. Five commissioners favored the plan, two opposed and one abstained.

The decision came after a public hearing held by the commission about its recommendations for social service funding. More than $21,000 in new money was available to social service agencies this year, for a total of $843,350. Thirty-eight agencies made requests totaling $988,976. Therefore, some commission recommendations were for significantly less money than what agencies had requested.

Three people appealed the commission’s recommendation to give Centro Latino $1,000 and asked for additional funding. Centro Latino requested $14,805 in city money for its Escuela Latina (Latino School), which includes an after school program, English as a second language classes and a computer lab with Internet access. This is the first time Centro Latino has requested money from the commission.

Eduardo Crespi, executive director of Centro Latino, was one of the three who spoke on behalf of the agency.

“We are asking the city to help us keep our education program running during 2005,” Crespi said. “We need your help.”

Crespi said Centro Latino serves approximately 5,000 people in Columbia and Boone County, including 420 students enrolled in the Columbia school system.

The commission amended its $1,000 funding proposal to include a $1,200 increase in funding for Centro Latino — bringing the total to $2,200 — but only if Boone County gives social services a 3 percent budget increase this year. Commission chair Lisa Scribner said it has been a long time since the county has approved an increase.

“It’s unusual for an agency to receive funding the first time it comes before the commission, so any funding is a mark of approval,” Scribner said.

Crespi acknowledged that there had been mistakes in his agency’s original proposal, particularly within the budget, and handed out a thick new packet to the commissioners. He said any budget shortfalls due to a lack of funding would be made up with money from his salary.

Scott Cristal cast one of the two opposing votes. He said that if Centro Latino tries to appeal the recommendation and ask for more funding when the City Council approves its final budget for fiscal 2005, it might be helpful to have on record that the approval was not unanimous.

Blair Campmier, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, appealed the commission’s recommendation to give the agency $16,750 after its request of $21,359 for summer and after-school programs. The commission did not discuss allotting more money to the Boys & Girls Club.

Agencies requesting city money filled out detailed applications, including program and total agency budgets and plans for how they planned to use the money. After the April 2 application deadline, the commission held hearings in June with agency representatives to determine funding priorities for fiscal 2005.

The recommendations made by the commission are not binding. The City Council must approve the final 2005 fiscal budget for social service agencies by its second meeting in September.

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