Commissioners' Forum Features Non-Profit Support

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Commissioners' Forum Features Non-Profit Support

Charlotte Hall, MD - 2/7/2013

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By Dick Myers

Diana Donahue addresses the commissioners at the public forum
Diana Donahue addresses the commissioners at the public forum

Representatives of non-profit groups that receive funding from St. Mary’s County, and one that would like to, spoke at the commissioners’ public forum Tuesday night at Northern Senior Center in Charlotte Hall.

The support for the so-called “non-county agencies” comes on the heels of the formation of a group called Vital Community Connections (VCC) which is made up of the 27 agencies that received almost $1.4 million in this year’s county budget. That’s a declining amount and some of the commissioners favor weaning the agencies off county funding. The new group had a public meeting last Thursday that was attenbded by more than 200 people.

But Dan Donahue, who did not identify which agency he represented, said, “The agencies together form the fabric of the community.” He added, “If you don’t have us somebody will have to provide the service.” That would mean either the county picking up the tab or the service eliminated, according to the non-profits.

During Donahue’s presentation, Commissioner Lawrence Jarboe (R: 3rd) picked up on a theme that he introduced during budget deliberations last year. He said the county funding was being distributed “without a level of accountability.” He has suggested instead that agencies compete for the funding by doing Request for Proposals to get competitive grants.

Steven Fitch, a member of the board of directors of Tri-County Youth Servicers Bureau, noted the agency has been in existence since 1971. He said they receive 10 percent of their funding from the county and depend on it for providing service to local youth.

Diana Donahue, a board member for Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy, said funding from state and federal sources is contingent on local funding, and if that was cut it could put their operation in jeopardy.

Donahue said she recently heard one of their clients telling a story about being beaten repeatedly by her husband. She said that is just one of the stories from the many people the agency has helped.

With tough economic times donations decline and the funding from government agencies is especially important, Donahue said. “These are trying times,” she noted.

Jim Dicus, president of the board of Summerseat Farm, asked for his group to be added to the funding list. Their request was rejected during the last budget cycle. He said they are trying to preserve the history of the county on their farm in Oakville. Summerseat is planning its first ever Southern Maryland Heritage and Folk Life Festival in September,

Tommy Alvey spoke on another subject. He owns an automotive battery business. He said we he tried to get on a list for the county procurement preference, he was told he had to sign up for the state of Delaware procurement list because the county piggybacks on that. But he also was told by a supplier that if someone in Delaware wanted one of his batteries, he would have to deliver it, which would be cost prohibitive.

Commissioner President Francis “Jack” Russell expressed a lack of knowledge about requiring a Delaware piggyback, but he said they would check and get back to him.

Two other speakers expressed individual concerns about the septic bill and about the lack of a fence around a swimming pool in the San Souci development in California.

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