Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 5, 2018 3:00 p.m.
One of the many decisions facing the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) as part of formulating the FY2018-19 Budget is allocating funds to county non-profit agencies. Requests from agencies previously funded have risen to $2.1M from their current $1.9M level. Additionally, the county has received $32,500 in new requests from agencies not previously funded.
It must be noted that the funds requested supplement other sources of revenue for the non-profits. They do not receive full funding from Nassau County.
In considering these requests during their recent budget meeting, county commissioners listened to an impassioned plea from Janice Ancrum, President and CEO of the Nassau County Council on Aging for an increase to fund rising transportation costs and to feed more senior citizens. She said that there are 403 new seniors awaiting services, and that the number of senior citizens in Nassau County is growing at a faster pace than the national average. The bulk of these seniors reside in the eastern portion of the county.
Commissioners were reluctant to cut county grants to other recipients in order to provide Ancrum with the additional funding she requested, although they did not question her statement of need.
County Office of Management and Budget Director Justin Stankiewicz explained that the BOCC has established no criteria for granting funding requests from non-profit agencies. He added that legally the county is only required to fund the Health Department and Starting Point to some level.
Ancrum explained that her agency has been impacted by FDOT’s cuts in transportation funding. Commissioner Steve Kelley (District 2) asked why the Council on Aging doesn’t raise its rates from the current one dollar to two or more. She explained that if she would do so, such action would further jeopardize other FDOT funding the Council on Aging receives. Commissioner Danny Leeper (District 1) added that higher rates would further complicate the lives of the most needy and could prevent their travel to obtain medical help.
Commissioner George Spicer (District 4) suggested cutting funding for the Nassau County Economic Development Board in half, claiming that the taxpayer has seen no benefit from past funding. He also suggested cutting funding for Micah’s Place, the battered spouse shelter.
Other commissioners disagreed on cutting funding for non-profit social service agencies, claiming that failure to support such organizations could result in a greater burden being placed on county rescue services or the Sheriff’s Office. Chair Pat Edwards (District 3) expressed support for funding NACDAC, which the county does not currently support, as another way to both help county residents while keeping them out of the legal system.
At this point, the BOCC has made no decision with respect to funding non-profit agencies.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.