DuPage County Board delays funding vote for conservation group

Updated 5/23/2012 7:07 PM

DuPage County Board members postponed a decision about funding a Glen Ellyn-based conservation group while they try to figure out where the money would come from.

Schools and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education, or SCARCE, could lose nearly half its budget if DuPage terminates a long-running contract for environmental programming. The group receives $155,750 a year from the county to do a variety of programs, including hosting large recycling events.

But with the existing contract set to expire on June 30, there is hope for the group.

County board member Jim Healy said this week that officials are looking at different options to provide SCARCE with 18 months of funding. One possibility could be for the county to give a grant to the group, he said.

If approved, the arrangement would give SCARCE representatives time to develop plans to wean the group off county funding.

Right now, the money SCARCE receives through DuPage's economic development and planning fund is a significant portion of the group's $325,000 annual budget. The group will continue to get $63,000 through the county's stormwater fund, in addition to revenue it receives through private donations.

SCARCE founder and Executive Director Kay McKeen reacted to Healy's announcement by calling it a sign of progress.

"That would be wonderful," McKeen said of the possibility of getting 18 months of funding.

McKeen said she realizes county officials want the group to raise more money. The challenge will be figuring how to do that. For example, she said she can't charge businesses or schools for services that the county is paying SCARCE to provide.

"There's no part of my contract that says I can charge you for what they're paying me to do," she said. "And truthfully, a lot of schools don't have any extra money."

If the many SCARCE supporters who attended Tuesday night's county board meeting get their way, the county would simply continue providing financial support to the group.

"This is not one of the programs that need to be pushed around," Carol Stream Village President Frank Saverino said. "This program, if anything, should get more money to work with."

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