PLYMOUTH–A few local nonprofits will see cuts in support from the town if the 2023-2024 proposed budget is approved at the town meeting on March 14, 2023.
At a recent meeting, selectmen discussed a proposal that would cut just over $6,800 in support to a handful of local nonprofit organizations. After advocates from Pemi Youth Center objected to the town taking away $3,000 of funding it was expecting to receive, the town agreed to reinstate the funds back into this year’s proposed budget, leaving $3,000 to be cut from donations to other local nonprofits. The budget committee and selectboard also recommended adding an additional $3,000 to other nonprofits it supports.
Town Manager, Scott Weden, said the cuts were a result of the town looking to create a balance of the services that the town provides.
The Town of Plymouth has traditionally included support for local nonprofits in its yearly budget. Last year, the town spent roughly $57,516 supporting 11 local nonprofits including Pemi-Baker Community Health, Transport Central, Grafton County Senior Citizens, Red Cross, Court Appt. Child Advocacy (CASA), and the Pemi Bridge House, among others.
Weden said this year the town prioritized contributions to nonprofits that support children, and the elderly when deciding what to fund and in what amount. In order for a nonprofit to receive funding they must submit an application that then gets reviewed by the budget committee and the selectboard.
This year, the budget committee and the selectboard, recommended making roughly $6,846 in funding cuts to the nonprofit budget, specifically to Pemi Youth Center (PYC), Communities for Alcohol and Drug free Youth (CADY), Lakes Region Mental Health,Tri-County Community Action, and Voices Against Violence. They also recommended adding $2,500 in support to Pemi Bridge House which is an organization that provides information and referrals, emergency shelter, food, job training, transitional living support, and aftercare; and, $1,000 to Transport Central, which provides non-emergency medical transportation for seniors, individuals with disabilities and anyone on medicaid.
Weden said the reduction in financial support didn’t signal a loss of general support for the missions of the nonprofits, but rather, officials were looking to strike a balance in what they were spending in nonprofit support and other town expenditures.
One of the impacted nonprofits, Pemi Youth Center, advocated that selectmen reconsider the $3,000 cuts to support and were successful. Typically the PYC receives $8,000 in their yearly allocated budget from the town.
Advocates who spoke at a recent selecboard meeting said that the center relies solely on donations from outside sources and does not ask that those who use the services of the center pay for any of its services.
The PYC is an after school program for the youth of Plymouth and the surrounding towns. Children ranging in age from 9-17 can attend PYC at no cost. Any youth attending the center on any given day are given homework support, themed activities to do, a hot meal, snacks, and a safe and welcoming environment. The attendance at the center varies day to day and about 100 youth are currently registered, with each of the youth having at least one parent residing in the town of Plymouth.
The money given to PYC from the town helps to pay for these services.
The selectmen decided against the $3,000 cuts and added it back into the budget.
Communities for Alcohol and Drug free Youth also took a cut in their budget from $8,300 down to $5,000. Unlike the PYC, representatives from CADY did not attend the Jan. 30 meeting.
Sarah Roberts, the director of operations at CADY, said that if she had seen advanced notice about the meeting that they would have attended, but because they are short-staffed it is difficult for them to attend all meetings.
Although the town values its nonprofits greatly, Weden said, it is impossible for them to fully fund all of the nonprofits no matter how important the services they provide. Finding a balance in the town budget is a difficult task, he said, sometimes resulting in unfortunate but necessary cuts.
Weden said, ”The development of the Town’s recommended budget is one of the most important, challenging, and exciting responsibilities. The annual budget is our largest and most significant policy document. It demonstrates our organization’s commitment to top community priorities and shared values. The process leading up to its creation invites honest conversations about the critical functions we perform, areas of desired improvement or expansion, opportunities to achieve equity, and the role of local government.”
This article is produced by a community reporter as part of The Community Journalism Project. For more information, and is being shared with the partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information on the project visit www.collaborativenh.org/community-journalism-project.