Elgin gives more money to Boys and Girls Club

Updated 4/14/2014 11:53 AM

The Elgin City Council's committee of the whole finally decided on how to disburse $200,000 in grants to local nonprofits by allowing a greater amount for the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin.

The money comes from the city's portion of Grand Victoria Casino revenues. The vote was postponed a couple of times earlier this year.

City staff members initially received 26 requests totaling $525,500 in funding for the riverboat grant money, and recommended 10 recipients to the city council.

City staff members had recommended allocating $70,000 to the Boys & Girls Club, but that was increased to $84,000 last week in a 7-1 vote by the city council.

The other nonprofits' allocations were decreased by $1,000 or $2,000 each to make up the difference.

After the Boys and Girls Club, the largest grants, at $18,000 each, went to Food for Greater Elgin, Salvation Army Golden Diners and Centro de Informacion.

The other recipients are Ecker Center, United Way of Elgin, Well Child Center, Literacy Connection, Greater Elgin Family Care Center and the YWCA.

Councilman John Steffen said the Boys and Girls Club was told by a previous city council that the city would pay about $120,000 yearly for the mortgage of the club's building on Dundee Avenue.

Club officials said the total mortgage is about $140,000 yearly.

"They need a little more of a soft landing coming down from the figures that they had before," Steffen said.

Councilman Terry Gavin pointed to the club's extensive programming, including for at-risk youth.

"The one (nonprofit) who takes the biggest hit from all of this (compared to its initial request of $98,000), is the one I believe who does the most out of what they get, and that's the Boys and Girls Club," Gavin said.

Councilwoman Tish Powell, however, pointed out giving such a large portion of the grant program to one agency can create hostility among other nonprofits.

Councilman John Prigge cast the only dissenting vote, saying the process is too political.

He proposed assigning the task to a new committee made up of former city council members. The committee should use a point system criteria, like the one in place for historic architectural rehabilitation grants, he said.

Councilman John Dunne objected to the idea, saying grant allocation is the council's responsibility.

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