New Haven’s Office of Management and Budget presented their Consolidated Action Plan for the coming fiscal year at a Joint Committee on Community Development and Human Services meeting Thursday night.
The joint committee, comprised of alders from 10 of the city’s 30 wards, pored over a mayor-approved proposal outlining where city funds will be allocated in FY 2016–17, during the hourlong meeting. They are expected to review the budget, submit amendments that cater to organizations within their ward and present the revised budget plan to the full Board of Alders for deliberation by the end of March. New Haven’s Consolidated Action Plan receives funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. With its federal funding, the plan annually supports four grants: the Community Development Block Grant, the Home Investment Partnership, the Housing Opportunities For Persons With AIDS and the Emergency Solution Grant.
“Initially we notified the public through emails and in the newspaper,” said Elizabeth Smith, the proposal’s point person in the Office of Management and Budget. “We sent out letters to nonprofit organizations to let them be aware that funding is now available.”
According to the current budget, there are 70 organizations receiving funding from the plan, including 11 new groups that joined this year. Typically the city supports groups applying for funding by calling them if mandatory materials have not yet been submitted. But this year, the city had to turn away three organizations that applied for the federal grant, two of which were rejected because their application was either incomplete or a duplication of a past application for the grant.
During the meeting, Ward 2 Alder Frank Douglass, who co-chairs the committee with Ward 27 Alder Richard Furlow, asked whether or not alders are obligated to reach out to individual organizations within their wards to help them apply.
“I know there are a few organizations that missed their [deadline],” Douglass said. “Their applications were incomplete.”
In response, Smith said alders should reach out to organizations that help their constituents and the city in general to make sure they are aware federal aid is available.
Douglass also asked the committee how closely alders should be working with local groups to balance the nuances of the budget. Since most organizations do not get the full amount of money they request, the committee’s mandate allows alders to slightly adjust the amount of funding different groups receive in order to maximize the preferences of the successful applicant pool as a whole.
As the final federal entitlement reached city coffers last week, the total amount of federal funding saw a decrease of 2.4 percent — tallying up to $6,105,715 — compared to last year’s entitlement. Smith noted that the only funding reduction the city has seen is from the Community Development Block Grant budget.
Smith also explained that unspent money cannot roll over to the next year. Traditionally, she said, funds that organizations do not exhaust are reallocated to other programs to avoid waste.
“One thing that is important to know is if we fund the public service programs and they don’t expend all the money during the program year, [the remaining fund] will be reprogrammed [by the city],” Smith said.
The joint committee will hear testimonies from nonprofit organizations and city departments on their planned usage of the allocated funds on March 23 and 24.