Archive for Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Commissioners peg funds for Alliance

August 2, 2006

The Alliance Against Family Violence received a boost Thursday from the Leavenworth County Commission that will help ease a financial crisis caused by the loss of a $250,000 federal grant.

County commissioners voted 3-0 to give the alliance a one-time, $25,000 grant. The money will come out of the county's 2006 general fund and will be paid in a lump sum.

"Thank you very much. I'm going to have a good night's sleep tonight," Kay Andersen, the alliance's executive director told commissioners after the vote.

The money will be used to keep one full-time "police response advocate" on the alliance's payroll.

Earlier this month, the Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Fund had notified the alliance its $250,000 annual grant would not be renewed. The federal grant funded about a third of the alliance's annual budget.

News that the federal grant renewal had been rejected sent alliance officials into a budget-slashing frenzy.

"That money is gone. We've taken a very hard look at the agency and we've done away with four jobs," Andersen told commissioners. She also said the center had cut expenses, such as cell phones and supplies, to the core.

Yet, she said, the dire need for services remained. Among those needs, she said, are the police response advocates.

The advocates come to the scene of domestic violence or sexual assault incidents and offer emotional and practical assistance to victims. The advocates help victims see alternatives to either repair or terminate their soured relationship.

Andersen said she was hopeful the alliance would be able to attract private funds to keep two additional police response advocates on the payroll.

Before voting on the grant, Commission Chairman Dean Oroke wondered aloud whether approval would "open the floodgates" to requests from other charitable agencies and county employees as commissioners continue their work on priorities for the 2007 county budget.

"We could be sending a mixed message to other groups," he said.

Commissioner Clyde Graeber, who offered the motion to fund the grant, noted the vital services the alliance provided throughout the county. And he made clear he would support the emergency request for one time only.

Commissioner Don Navinsky voiced strong agreement that the grant be a one-time appropriation.

"I'm not one to feed the puppy just because the puppy keeps coming back," Navinsky said. "But at the same time, I have three strays at my house right now."

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