published Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Chattanooga's funding for social agencies rising by $130,000


by Cliff Hightower

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BY THE NUMBERS

$873,000: Amount first allocated to the United Way by Chattanooga

$830,344: Funds the city has agreed to pay to social service agencies this year

$700,000: Amount the city originally allocated for the agencies in its budget plan

Source: Chattanooga

Chattanooga finance officials have found an additional $130,000 to restore at least some proposed funding to local social service agencies.

Dan Johnson, chief of staff for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said the city found more money through cuts and in the city's contingency fund.

"We just rearranged it," he said.

Several social service agencies were astonished a month ago to find the mayor's proposed 2012-13 fiscal year budget had a lump sum of $700,000 allocated to them. The city had asked for the United Way of Greater Chattanooga to conduct a review of the agencies and make recommendations based upon an allocation of $873,000.

During a Budget and Finance Committee workshop Tuesday, the City Council briefly went over a funding worksheet for social service agencies provided by the administration. Council members agreed they would support the new $830,000 allotment.

The council expects to vote on the 2012-13 fiscal year budget within weeks. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

City records show that part of the additional money came at the expense of some programs.

The Joe Johnson Mental Health Center took a $5,000 cut on its $60,000 request. The city also decided not to fund On Point, which had requested $75,000.

One social service agency director is still unhappy with the proposed funding level.

Phil Acord, president of the Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter, said his agency is slated to receive $197,000, down from $227,000 this year and from $400,000 in the years when the city-county sales tax agreement was in place.

The 45-year-old agreement spelled out city and county responsibility for jointly funded agencies, but Chattanooga let the pact expire in 2011.

Acord said his agency probably could have fared better if local agencies had had a chance to argue their cases before the City Council. Instead, after the United Way did its review, it simply handed over its findings to the council.

"We probably would have done better if we gave our presentation," he said.

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