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Local News

How it hurts: Local nonprofits facing funding cuts

July 20th, 2011 11:29 pm by Rex Barber

Ten local girls may not be able to attend after school and summer programs at the local Girls Inc. chapter if the city cuts funding to that and other nonprofit agencies.
Girls Inc. is one of 25 local nonprofit agencies that receive a portion of its operating expenses from Johnson City through special appropriations. In fiscal year 2011 city funding to those agencies was about $525,000. Of that special appropriation, Girls Inc. got $35,000.
Johnson City Commissioners have discussed cutting the special appropriations for all 25 agencies by at least 10 percent for fiscal year 2012 and possibly eliminating funding altogether the next year.
Terri Knapp, director of Girls Inc. in Johnson City, said between 20 percent and 25 percent of girls enrolled in her chapter’s summer program are on a scholarship. About 17 percent of the girls in the after school program are on scholarships. About 400 girls attend programs at Girls Inc. each year.
Ten percent of Girls Inc.’s city appropriation would be $3,500. Knapp said that is equivalent to 10 scholarships. Total elimination of the $35,000 city appropriation would likely cause an increase in the fees Girls Inc. must charge each girl who enrolls in programs.
“If they cut us completely that will be roughly 10 percent of our budget,” Knapp said. “There would be no way we could keep our fee structure if they cut it.”
The current fee structure is $350 for Girls Inc.’s entire summer program. That is 10 weeks at $35 a week. The fee includes two hot meals a day, a snack in the afternoon, field trips and more than 70 classes for participating girls to choose from throughout the summer. Knapp said 150 girls are enrolled in the summer camp.
The after school program is $50 a month for participants and is from 3 until 6 p.m. weekdays.
Knapp said her organization was able to keep its enrollment fees low because of funding from the city and other entities, including the county and various community foundation grants.
The total operating budget for Girls Inc. in fiscal year 2011 was about $360,000.
Girls Inc. has been operating in Johnson City since 1944.
Knapp said Girls Inc. is an “incredible” resource for young girls, because it provides leadership training, sports exposure, life skills, career information, cultural enrichment and many other opportunities.
“We basically just help girls succeed,” Knapp said. “Our mission is to make them strong, smart and bold.”
Another local nonprofit organization that stands to lose city money is Frontier Health, the region’s largest behavioral health, mental health and vocational rehabilitation provider, according to its website. Frontier Health got about $62,000 from the city in fiscal 2011. The city could cut $12,000 from that amount for this fiscal year.
Charles E. Good, president and CEO of Frontier Health, said in an emailed statement his organization’s services could be affected.
“Johnson City has a long history of supporting behavioral health services for its citizens,” Good said in the email. “While local support is being reduced, we realize it could impact our ability to render services to families and individuals who receive services on a sliding fee scale. Demonstrating evidence of local support is critical to Frontier’s ability to secure state and federal grant funding for programs such as the Crisis Stabilization Unit, Magnolia Ridge Residential Treatment Center and some children’s services.”
East Tennessee State University’s Johnson City Downtown Clinic also gets a portion of its funding from the city. The city’s funding for fiscal year 2011 for the clinic was $37,000. The clinic had requested an additional $23,000 for fiscal 2012 to have someone on staff who could help uninsured patients transition to some kind of health insurance program.
According to Patti Vanhook, associate dean for practice and community partnerships, in the past 18 months the Downtown Clinic has seen an increase in patients with no insurance. According to Vanhook, 79 percent of the patients at the clinic have no insurance, whereas 1 1/2 years ago only 41 percent of patients were uninsured.
The Downtown Clinic was established in the early 1990s to provide health care services for the city’s homeless population. It has since increased its mission scope to include uninsured or underinsured patients. No one is turned away from the clinic due to inability to pay.
If city funding for JCDC is cut altogether, Vanhook said that would mean the elimination of two clinic positions. She said the clinic would try to find other sources of funding if the city cuts 10 percent of its appropriations.
“We will diligently look to see if we can get that (lost funding) from community donations or somewhere else,” Vanhook said. “We’re not going to close our doors.”
The City Commission should consider cutting special appropriations at tonight’s meeting.

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