County approves grant recommendations | AspenTimes.com

County approves grant recommendations

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

The Pitkin County commissioners approved the Citizen Grant Review Committee's funding recommendations to support 75 agencies in 2015 with nearly $2 million during a Thursday work session.

Director Nan Sundeen and Deputy Director Mitzi Ledingham of the Pitkin County Health and Human Services Department, updated the board on the 2015 recipients and went over the grant application process.

Prior to 2002, the commissioners had supported area nonprofits through the county general fund.

In 2002, Pitkin County voters were approached for a tax-supported fund and passed a five-year property tax dedicated to providing funding to Health and Human Services and community nonprofit programs through the Healthy Community Fund grant program.

"Our citizens recognized that government cannot do everything," Ledingham said. "We're a small, rural community, and we don't have big medical centers at our disposal. We have smaller agencies that are there to meet those needs of our community. It was felt, with a dedicated source of funding, you would be able to grow, support and maintain these programs for the betterment of all. Through the years, it's become more and more true as you've seen the issues with mental health and substance abuse in this rural, resort area."

In 2006, that dedicated property tax provided $1,250,000 in funding. The tax was increased in 2011 for another six years, with annual revenue close to $1.9 million and the fund growing each year at the rate of inflation and local growth. The 2015 revenue total is set at $2,162,249 with allocations totaling $2,009,326, leaving a 2015 ending fund balance of $180,846.

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"As every year goes by, it becomes more and more apparent that we need to have these services strong," Ledingham said. "Right now we have a big push in suicide prevention as it remains a high priority to be addressed in this county and valley."

The Healthy Community Fund makes grants for programs provided by community agencies, which are categorized in two ways: either as providers of health and human services or as providers of services designed to address community problems and enhance quality of life.

The recommended allocations for 2015 are $1.2 million to Health and Human Services, $421,958 to Senior Services and $264,500 to community nonprofits.

There are four new Health and Human Services requests that were recommended for funding from the Center for Independence, Rocky Mountain Human Services, A Way Out and High Country RSVP. Of the four new community nonprofit requests, three are recommended for funding from the Aspen Science Center, Extreme Sports Camp and We-cycle.

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com