Wichita Council Continues Funding For Neighborhood City Halls

By: news@kake.com Email
By: news@kake.com Email

UPDATE: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Wichita City Council voted to unanimously approve a new budget for the Career Development Office.

The proposed budget cuts last year's $1.06 million dollar budget in half to $532,000. The cuts are due to anticipated federal government cuts to the Community Services Block Grants.

The new budget drops funding for neighborhood clean-ups and summer activity camps.

Funding for Project Access, a service to help uninsured residents, would be reduced from $250,000 to $225,000.

Also, funding for the four neighborhood city halls would be cut from $309,000 to $77,000. The amount will cover costs through the end of 2013.

Further discussion is anticipated regarding funding for neighborhood city halls and collaborations with other community groups to provide employment services for low income residents.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

The Wichita City Council is deciding the future of local programs that are facing a funding cut. The federal government has warned that cuts in the popular Community Service Block Grant will be in the range of 50% this year.

First, each of the four neighborhood city halls could close at the end of this year, according to Director of Housing and Community Services Mary K. Vaughn. It also means the highly popular neighborhood cleanups could go away. Add to that, the popular summer youth activity camps and Project Access, which is a program where local doctors donate their services for uninsured patients.

"I'm not recommending that they close," said Vaughn of the neighborhood city halls. "I'm merely providing a funding option through the end of this year."

Without a funding source past this year, it's a strong possibility that Wichita's four neighborhood city halls could close their doors. Four employees would be eliminated, Vaughn said.

"Everything that we have done with these funds has been an enhancement to people's lives and our community," Vaughn said. "We can't do all of those things now, and yes that bothers me a lot."

The Community Service Block Grant has been $1-million of federal government funding in the past. President Obama warned of cutting it last year, but it didn't happen.

City Council Member Jeff Longwell wondered if $350,000 could be moved from the lesser efficient career development offices.

"Some of those funds that we use for CDO might be better directed to save some of these other programs," Longwell said.

People who use these services ever day say it would be a tragedy to lose them. One of those people is Rufus Draper.

"I've been coming here all my life," Draper said while visiting the Atwater Neighborhood City Hall. "I live two blocks down the street and as a juvenile, we came next door to roller skate, play basketball."

Draper says the neighborhood city halls provide countless programs for at-risk youth to take advantage of in order to have a positive influence in their lives.

Mary K. Vaughn also made a bit of a plea for private sources to step up and donate money in order to keep some of these very successful programs from being eliminated.

The Wichita City Council is expected to approve the CSBG on Tuesday.

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