SAN BENITO — A nonprofit agency yesterday asked the city to allocate federal dollars to help foster children rather than use the money to fund park restrooms.
The city has proposed using $10,620 from the federal Community Development Block Grant program to fund restroom facilities at Landrum Park during the upcoming fiscal year.
Under the proposal, the city would not fund Court Appointed Child Advocates of Cameron & Willacy Counties, the San Benito Boys and Girls Club, Amigos Del Valle, Maggie’s House and the San Benito Housing Authority.
With the exception of the housing authority, the city allocated $6,000 to each of the agencies during the current fiscal year.
Overall, the CDBG program is expected to provide the city with a total of $406,237 during the upcoming fiscal year, which is $50,000 more than this year.
The city’s proposed allocation includes spending $215,571 on street projects, $60,000 on the water and sewer system, $10,000 on park improvements, $39,000 to help pay off the Resaca Trail land purchase and $70,000 to help fund the city’s administration.
Historically, the city has earmarked much of its annual CDBG allocation to help fund local nonprofit agencies.
However, for years federal cuts have continued to slash CDBG funding across the country.
In yesterday’s public hearing into the city’s proposal, Dora Martinez, executive director of Court Appointed Child Advocates of Cameron & Willacy Counties, requested the city allocate $6,000 to the agency that helps foster children.
This year, the agency has been using its $6,000 CDBG allocation to help pay a San Benito worker and help 36 San Benito children, Martinez said.
“This will ultimately affect children’s wellbeing long-term,” Martinez said of the proposed funding cut.
For the past three years, the city has allocated $6,000 to the agency, Martinez said before the public hearing.
If the city cuts its funding, the agency operating on a $428,000 annual budget would have to find more money to offset the loss, Martinez said in an interview.
“For any nonprofit, when you lose any funds you have to make it up somewhere else,” she said.
Noting CDBG dollars are allocated based on a city’s size, Martinez said Harlingen has proposed allocating the agency $16,000 while Brownsville recommended earmarking $50,000.
“I’ve never seen where (CDBG) funds were completely eliminated for public service projects and reallocated to public facilities improvements and housing,” Martinez said.
At City Hall, City Manager Manuel De La Rosa has proposed using the $10,620 in CDBG money to fund Landrum restroom facilities to allow the city to pump those savings into street repairs, which residents call the city’s biggest problem, city spokeswoman Martha McClain said after the hearing.
“Utilization of the funds in this manner … would help meet other community park needs by stretching available dollars in next year’s budget, which again would benefit all residents,” McClain stated in a press release.
If the city equally divided the $10,620 among the five nonprofit agencies, each would receive about $2,000, McClain stated.