While Watsonville public safety agencies try to avoid funding cuts and layoffs, several nonprofits in the city are grappling with reductions that could gut their programs.
Representatives from the nonprofits—from clients to program directors—gave heartfelt testimonials at Tuesday's Watsonville City Council meeting about the value, both socially and economically, of the city's investment in their efforts.
"We strongly urge you not to cut the level of social services,” said Brooke Johnson, chief operations and programs officer for Second Harvest Food Bank.
Johnson said the social services safety net in the city, including the 27 nonprofits under the Community Care Alliance umbrella, provides critical food, shelter, medical assistance, crisis intervention and counseling, senior programs, literacy programs, job training and placement, and other programs in Watsonville, where unemployment tops 20 percent.
The agencies receive less than 1 percent of the city budget and “provide crucial local support for local people," Johnson said.Social Services Funding
Programs Funded Amount 25 social services $183,802 5 community agencies $18,300 3 new agencies and one
$24,000 Unfunded Programs
Amount 9 agencies
$29,673 3 new agencies and one
$59,500 Total Budget Reduction $55,000
Some of the affected agencies pleaded for their budgets.
Laura Marcus, executive director of Dientes Community Dental Care, said she was "disappointed and saddened” that the city plans to defund the program, which has served Watsonville residents for 22 years.
“While your funding of our program continues to decline year after year, we have tripled our services to Watsonville clients, Watsonville services in the past five years," she said.
Sam Storey from Community Bridges had some advice for city councilors: “I’m encouraging you to not rush to judgment and to defer you decision," he said.
Karen Delaney from the said her program's $5,000 in funding was eliminated. She said volunteers donated $1 million in labor last year. The city funding covers insurance for that work.
“We are begging you, really, don’t take your support away from our volunteers or our clients," she said.
The outcry had an affect on city councilors, who are trying to manage a .
“I don’t think we should be going backward, eliminating,” Councilman Oscar Rios said.
The social services budgets were not an action item Tuesday, so the council will have more time to consider the options.
"These are difficult choices," Mayor Daniel Dodge said. "… We’’ll come back on the 7th with revisiting recommendations.”