Aspen nonprofit funding stays steady |

Aspen nonprofit funding stays steady

ASPEN ” The Aspen city government is poised to give more than $1 million in grants to local nonprofit organizations in 2009 ” a 2 percent increase over this year.

The Aspen City Council informally agreed last month to approve the funding, which was recommended by the Aspen Grant Review Committee.

The city received requests from 42 community nonprofits; 18 arts nonprofits and 22 health and human services nonprofit organizations, said committee member Kathryn Koch. That amounted to $1,254,329 cash requests and $81,800 in-kind requests.

The committee’s recommendations total $400,000 for arts and $195,749 for community nonprofits, in addition to $71,800 in in-kind funding. Environmental nonprofit organizations are set to receive $35,730 in 2009. Recommended funding for health and human services agencies totals $389,056 ” a 1 percent increase.

Total funding requests were $484,000, which is 26 percent higher than what was granted in 2008, Koch said. Most nonprofits will be given close to what they asked for. Only one ” Celebrate the Beat ” didn’t receive any money at all, according to the committee’s recommendations.

The arts nonprofits are funded from $100,000 in revenues generated by Aspen’s Real Estate Transfer Tax, or RETT, and $300,000 from other revenues in the Wheeler Opera House fund, Koch said.

City Councilman Steve Skadron questioned why two large organizations ” the Aspen Music Festival and School and the Aspen Art Museum ” receive such large amounts of money from the city.

The festival will receive $100,000 in 2009, which is $10,000 less than what was requested. The art museum will get $32,000 ” $8,000 less than what it asked for.

Skadron asked, philosophically, whether the city should put a cap on funding big organizations since they are capable of raising enough money in other ways.

Koch said those organizations’ costs are higher and their programming contributes to tourism, thus fueling the local economy. She also added that the city’s money doesn’t contribute to those organizations’ capital or endowment campaigns, but to operating expenses only.

City Councilman Jack Johnson pointed out the Music Associates of Aspen was instrumental in getting the RETT passed years ago.

The other big-ticket request came from Jazz Aspen Snowmass, which asked for $50,000. The committee recommended $20,000 and granting a one-time request for $25,000 to fund the free music stage on the Cooper Avenue Mall.

The committee recommended giving $10,000 toward gymnastics equipment at the Red Brick Center for the Arts but the council told them to use it for another purpose. The equipment, two sunken foam pits and two floor-level trampolines, was a $381,000 capital project that was cut by the City Council in the city’s 2009 budget.

The 15-year-old equipment is used mostly by the Silver City Gymnastics program, and the group will likely have to raise the money itself.

Mayor Mick Ireland said he doesn’t think arts funding should be used for recreation.

Johnson agreed funding the gymnastics pits would set a bad precedent. He added that the grants review committee was formed to depoliticize the process of doling out money to dozens of organizations all vying for a limited amount of funds.

There are eight community nonprofits that have two-year partnerships with the city which end in 2009, and there is one that extends from 2008 to 2010. The committee has not recommended any new partnerships for 2009.

GrassRoots Television requested a one-time grant of $30,000 to complete a remodel of its facility. But because of the $50,000 remodel in City Council chambers, the committee recommended only $5,000 for GrassRoots.

The committee has recommended two of three in-kind requests. The Aspen Historical Society’s $10,000 request to pay the utilities won’t be granted.

The city provides ongoing in-kind funding for Aspen Historical Society’s annual mowing and landscaping, which totals $21,000. The nonprofit was recommended for an operational grant of $22,000.

Of the total funding for community nonprofits, the committee has recommended one-time grants of $14,500.

These organizations are funded from the city’s parks and open space fund. Total funding for 2009 amounts to $35,730 ” a 35 percent increase over last year. That’s because the Roaring Fork Conservancy will get $10,000 this year. In 2008, the organization received $1,300.

Five environmental nonprofits are funded by the city, with two organizations having partnerships with the city in 2009 ” the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers. Wilderness Workshop has a partnership with the city until 2010.

City finance director Don Taylor worked with Pitkin County’s Grant Review Committee in evaluating funding applications for health and human service organizations.

This component of the city’s grant funding program includes more partnerships than the arts or community nonprofits. That’s because the services are established and have stable relationships with city and county governments, according to the committee. There are 12 partnerships, which include Aspen Counseling Center; Aspen Youth Center; the Buddy Program; Catholic Charities, Community Health, the Family Visitor Program; Mountain Valley Developmental Services; RESPONSE; The Right Door; Roaring Fork Family Resource Center; Roaring Fork Hospice and Youthzone.

The 2009 budget has recommended $38,160 for Pitkin County Senior Services, which is a 1 percent increase over 2008.

One new grant request is from Community Health Initiatives, Inc., which will receive $24,556.

In-kind funding from the city to Aspen Junior Hockey, the Aspen Skating Club and the Aspen Swim Club will remain intact in 2009. The committee has recommended funding for the same number of hours of ice time for junior hockey ” three weekends of hockey for the annual Fall Faceoff. There is an increase to the skating club from $19,000 to $20,500. The swim club will get $15,000.

Other contributions include $100,000 to the Aspen Skiing Co. for the Winter X Games; $265,440 to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association for a contract for event and information services; $12,000 for Healthy Mountain Communities; $17,640 for the Sister Cities program and $10,000 for World Cup races.

Estimated franchise fee payments to Grassroots Television and KAJX total $206,640. Kids First Child Care grants and tuition assistance totals $1,664,840.

Inclusive of those amounts, the total recommended contributions for 2009 is $2,685,375.

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