Tuesday, July 01, 2008

NYC non-profits see red . . . ink :(

Call them discretionary funds, slush funds, pork-barrel funds, or whatever you prefer, but the New York City Council has, for many years, allocated to individual councilmembers separate funding not designated for specific expenditures to support projects in the areas of the city that they’re elected to serve. Non-profit organizations sponsor hundreds of programs, such as free or low-cost English classes for immigrants, computer classes for seniors, Meals on Wheels (non-kosher and kosher) delivered to the homebound elderly and/or ill or disabled, and after-school programs for children, in return for a commitment by their City Council member to reimburse them.

Now, hundreds of programs are in jeopardy, many have already been eliminated, and some non-profit organizations are laying off staff and even facing having to close their doors forever, because these reimbursement funds have been frozen pending a Department of Investigations look into the recent corruption scandal, in which funds were being allocated to such worthy organizations as councilmembers’ family members, etc. Two non-profits for which my husband works (one as a volunteer treasurer, one as a paid accountant) are in serious financial straits because thousands of dollars of reimbursements have not been made for programming already presented to the public and paid for. (Full disclosure: My husband’s fee is dependent on receipt of grant moneys. We have no idea when, or even whether, he’ll be paid for accounting work performed since late last year.)

Our synagogue is awaiting reimbursement of over $30,000. By the time we get paid, we may already have been forced to sell our building, which was built less than a decade ago to replace a larger building that we could no longer afford, and move into a house. This is not a joke.


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