County allocates funds to nonprofits from new tax |

County allocates funds to nonprofits from new tax

Allyn Harvey

Catholic Charities will receive a $10,000 check from Pitkin County to help it pay for legal counseling and advocacy for the valley’s Latino community.

The charity arm of the Denver Archdiocese received the full amount it was asking for from the county, in spite of initial reservations by some of the county commissioners.

The Friends of James E. Moore Pool, however, only received $1,000. The supporters of Aspen’s only public swimming pool had asked for $10,000.

Both groups were seeking support from the $800,000 in funding for health and human services and community nonprofits that was OK’d by voters last month.

That a fairly recent new entrant into the local nonprofit scene received all it was asking for and another long-established group only received a tenth illustrates the new austerity present in the county’s budgetary outlook.

The money raised through the temporary tax is overseen by a citizen committee that considers grant applications and makes recommendations to the county commissioners.

“I would say the nonprofit money is tighter – so the citizen grant review committee had to make some choices,” said Nan Sundeen, the county’s director of health and human services.

In fact, of the approximately $830,000 that the county will collect in 2003 through the temporary property tax increase, only about $643,038 has been allocated so far. The remaining money will be given out as the year progresses.

The county has divided the money from the special tax into three pots. The first is ongoing projects such as the Aspen Counseling Center, the Buddy Program, the Family Visitor Program and YouthZone. Most of those programs will, at the front end, receive the same amount they got from the county this year with a small adjustment for inflation.

The second pot is for community nonprofits such as the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, which will receive $5,000, Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, a trail-building and maintenance program that will also receive $5,000 and GrassRoots TV, which is going to get $36,000.

“We’re very happy that Pitkin County is now a fully vested partner in GrassRoots TV, like the city of Aspen,” said John Masters, the community access station’s executive director. “The additional funding, the $36,000, enables us to provide access to our facilities, equipment and staff time at what we hope is an affordable rate for everyone in Pitkin County.”

The third pot of money is the $200,000 over and above the county’s recent support for health and human services and community nonprofits that voters approved to help make up for losses in state and federal funding to nonprofits such as YouthZone.

“We’re going to allocate that in the spring, and maybe the fall. We’re still looking at how to do that,” said Sundeen. “That money is about making up for some of the cuts in state and federal support.”

The county commissioners have followed the recommendations of the grant review committee for the most part, although in some cases they have raised red flags, as with Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities has been slowly filling the hole in services left by Asistencia Para Latinos, the Glenwood Springs-based advocacy and immigration assistance agency that folded exactly one year ago.

The majority of its resources continue to be focused on the Eagle River Valley, where its presence is more established, but it has been expanding into Glenwood since last winter. It also receives money from the Aspen Valley Community Foundation.

County Commissioner Patti Clapper held up the allocation to Catholic Charities last month, because she was worried about its focus on legal counseling for immigrants applying for visas.

“Catholic Charities has hired an advocate for our Hispanic community this past week,” Clapper said. “Which is what I think we want them to do.”

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