Elgin nonprofits predict closure without city funding

 
 
Updated 11/14/2011 5:53 PM

At least two Elgin organizations are looking at the real possibility of closing their doors if Elgin City Council members approve a proposed budget that would eliminate funding for outside agencies.

City Manager Sean Stegall presented council members with a recommended budget Friday that cuts $2 million of Riverboat expenditures, including hundreds of thousands from Elgin nonprofits.

 

The Boys and Girls Club, which was given $119,000 in 2011, would receive nothing in 2012 if the budget is approved as recommended. Executive Director Rose Reinert said any cut from the $100,00 the organization was expecting in 2012 would mean changing service hours and possibly closing certain days.

Reinert said if there is a complete cut in the funding, the organization would have to consider closure in the next two to three years.

"We recognize it's a terrible situation to be in," Reinert said. "But I also recognize there's 1,100 kids that take part in our programs that would have the door closed on them."

The Boys and Girls Club, which operates on a little less than $1 million per year, built a new facility on Dundee Avenue three years ago with the expectation it would continue to receive monetary support from the city. Since then, membership in the club has increased by more than 200 percent, Reinert said, and there is still a waiting list of 200 elementary school students.

The kids who take part in Boys and Girls Club programs are in grades 1 through 12, and 30 percent of them live in families that make less than $9,000 per year.

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"These are young people who don't have a lot of options," Reinert said.

According to Dennis Hewitt, executive director of PADS, closure of the Elgin homeless shelter would also be imminent if the city eliminates its funding.

The organization received $21,190 in 2011 and expected to receive $14,000 in 2012. All of the nonprofits receiving money through Riverboat funds have faced across-the-board cuts over the last few years. Hewitt said six or seven years ago, the city offered $50,000.

The shelter has been in Elgin for 22 years, serving residents from a permanent facility on Berkley Street for four years.

"We are the last knot in the safety net," Hewitt said. "When people come to us they have no other place to go. If they lose this particular agency ... they will be on the streets."

Hewitt said 30 to 35 percent of PADS clients are kids, highlighting the changing face of homelessness. Elgin's financial contribution to the organization has helped it help others. Hewitt said about 70 percent of the people who use PADS end up in permanent housing elsewhere because of the agency's support.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

PADS receives funding from federal and state entities, all of which have been making cuts in recent years. He said he has cut his organization's expenses to keep pace but can't go much further.

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra would see its money from the city drop from $90,080 in 2011 to nothing in 2012. CEO Dale Lonis said he thought it most appropriate not to comment on hypothetical scenarios but the funding drop comes in the midst of rocky financial times for the symphony.

Hamilton Wings, Renz Addiction Center, Elgin Community Network and Senior Services are other nonprofits set to lose funding. Also on the chopping block are funds for the Ride in Kane program and PACE bus route 554, youth sports grants, the senior tax rebate, historic grant programs, children's theater and the Community Crisis Center toy giveaway.

The council will discuss the Riverboat fund portion of the budget in detail at its committee of the whole meeting, which starts at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Heritage Ballroom of The Centre, 100 Symphony Way. Council members will also hold an interactive public meeting about the budget from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in the same location.

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