If 100 is defeated, ICS would see reduction in admin, cash aid funds - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

If 100 is defeated, ICS would see reduction in admin, cash aid funds

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Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 11:00 pm

Interfaith Community Services is anticipating a 50 percent decrease in its administrative and cash assistance funds from the state of Arizona if Proposition 100 is defeated May 18.

Northwest-based ICS provides services, food and financial assistance to low-income, elderly and disabled people in Tucson and Pima County.

Last year, ICS's budget for administration, case management and grants to families — state funds distributed through the Pima Community Action Agency — was about $140,000. For the coming fiscal year, it expects to have about $70,000 in state funds for those uses, according to Terri Patt-Smith, the associate director for ICS.

"We are holding tight with our other forms of income with our faith communities, and individual donors, and we are applying for every foundation and grant that we know," Patt-Smith said.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, government grants constituted 17 percent of ICS's $2.159 million operational revenue, according to its 2009 annual report.

When a family is in need of financial assistance, a case manager is assigned to help evaluate how ICS can best serve them. From there, ICS decides how much money it can give the family, and for how long.

One-third of the funds from Proposition 100, the three-year, 1 percent sales tax, is slated to go toward health and human services and public safety. The rest is for primary and secondary education.

One of Arizona's main distributors of funding for health and human services is the Department of Economic Security, which works with community organizations, state and federal partners to help people be safe and economically secure.

DES expects to have $87.45 million less in funds for the fiscal year that begins July 1. If voters do not pass Proposition 100, DES would have to cut another $50.5 million — to $137.95 million, about a fourth of its total spending — from its budget.

With a decrease from DES, community services like ICS have to cut from their budgets and from the services they offer.

"There is definitely going to be less assistance money for us because of the cuts to the Department of Economic Security, where most of those grants come from," Patt-Smith said. "Any of the state-level grants are going to be drastically cut."

According to a DES budget presentation, the governor has already approved to backfill, with federal funds, slightly more than $100 million to help recoup some of its lost revenue.

"That is money that the governor gave us to soften the blow," said Steve Meissner, the director of communications for DES. "Nobody can accuse her of not doing what she can. It is just a question of how much can she do given the nature of the fiscal problem the state is facing."

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