Assembly still grappling with nonprofit funding
How the Haines Borough should distribute money to local nonprofits has been discussed for years, and the issue continues to vex the assembly.
Mayor Stephanie Scott proposed at a borough assembly meeting last month to establish an ad hoc committee to deal with the issue of doling out money to nonprofits, but the resolution failed after assembly members Norm Smith, Jerry Lapp and Debra Schnabel opposed the committee’s formation.
Schnabel said she felt very strongly that the committee would be redundant and unnecessary, as Haines already has the Chilkat Valley Community Foundation to make decisions on how to fund local nonprofits.
“(Schnabel) would prefer that that group take over this job of deciding which nonprofit gets what kind of money,” Scott explained in an interview. “Ostensibly because they’re experts in making value decisions, I suppose. But my problem with that and the assembly’s problem with that position is that only the elected officials can appropriate and spend money.”
After the committee idea failed, the assembly forwarded the issue to the finance committee for discussion. But during the Jan. 21 finance committee meeting, nearly an hour of dialogue again ended in deadlock.
Schnabel said one of her main complaints is that there is currently no system for evaluating the actual productivity or usefulness of any given nonprofit.
“I’m uncomfortable because there’s no program evaluation. Yes, we have an application form, and yes, people come and make presentations to us, but we don’t really evaluate the program, how it is functioning and its need relative to the community,” Schnabel said.
Scott said she wanted to go about it the opposite way and ask nonprofits to justify to the borough why their activity should receive public dollars.
In past years, the borough has solicited applications and used a scoring matrix to determine if a nonprofit qualifies for borough funding and, if so, how much they should get. Scott said one of the problems with this system is the scoring matrix is unaligned with the application process, i.e. the matrix doesn’t correspond to the documents and statements nonprofits are asked to submit for funding.
Last year the borough gave more than $150,000 to 16 nonprofits including the Takshanuk Watershed Council, Chilkat Valley Preschool, KHNS radio, Haines Senior Center and the Chilkat Snowburners.