Archive for Friday, April 2, 2010

Funding coordination

A centralized advisory board to consider all requests for social service funding from the city will be a positive step.

April 2, 2010


An advisory board that won Lawrence City Commission support this week has the potential to bring more fairness and efficiency to the process of distributing city funds to local social service programs.

An ordinance to create the new Social Service Funding Advisory Board got initial approval by city commissioners on Tuesday. The seven-member board would take over the duties of two inactive advisory boards that were supposed to make recommendations for distributing money from the city’s special alcohol fund and its housing trust funds. Requests for funds from the city’s general operating fund and its special recreation fund also would go through the new committee.

Having a single advisory board consider all requests has a number of advantages. One of the board’s first charges is to create a universal application for city funding, which would eliminate the need for agencies to make multiple requests from different city funds.

This will allow for better coordination in distributing funds. All requests will go through one board that knows exactly how much money each agency is getting from which city funds. The new board also will be better able to hold agencies accountable for the funds they receive by requiring reports on outcomes and agency performance.

The new system also should promote fairness by standardizing the application and distribution process. All the applications come to one place and are handled in the same way rather than going to different advisory boards or directly to city commissioners that handle the requests in different ways.

The bottom line is that the new advisory board will have a big-picture view of how city money is being used to achieve social service goals. The previous system had become a hodgepodge that may not have provided an even playing field for social service agencies seeking assistance or delivered the biggest bang for the city’s bucks.

The amount of money the city is able to commit to local service agencies will never be enough to cover all of the requests. For that reason, it’s important to direct that money carefully to try to meet the city’s most pressing needs.

Forming the new advisory board is a good attempt to bring order to a funding system that had become somewhat disorganized and ineffective. Both taxpayers and the agencies seeking money should benefit from the change.


SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 9 months ago

Basically, if I can get a few buddies seated on the Social Service Funding Advisory Board, my non-profit (which I don' t actually have) would stand a better chance of getting other people's money.

George Lippencott 7 years, 9 months ago

Good on our law givers.

Now do better on exonomic development (a plan - not remediation but long term)

unite2revolt 7 years, 9 months ago

This is a boondoggle. For starters it does not include all city funding decisions for the Social Services funding requests only the general fund, alcohol fund, recreation fund and housing trust fund. These are city dollars only federal or state moneys passed through the city will be handled by other processes. This is in essence a way for commisioners and city staff to remove themselves from accountability for how this process occurs. The United Way member of the board will not be more informed of agency operations, as the United Way is switching from agency funding to program funding starting in 2011. There are significantly more social service agencies than there are United Way agencies at the moment. The problem in the past has always been a lack of direction from the commisioners about what their goals are, causing essentially any agency to be eligible for funding. A universal process for reporting and applying only increases this problem. And the BIGGEST problem is that it allows for the board to be composed entirely of agency representatives that are already getting city funding. The people getting the money can: design the application process, design the evaluation process, vote on recommendations for funding levels. And we all know that it is highly unlikely that the commission will vote agianst recommendations from the committee, because that would mean they or the city staff would have to do the work involved or at least take responsibility for the decisions.

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