The Mecklenburg Board of Commissioners has tentatively agreed to give a local nonprofit $100,000 for the upcoming year, despite the county manager’s recommendation not to fund the group.
County Manager Dena Diorio had suggested in her budget that Charlotte Community Services Association was not financially stable enough to receive community service grant money.
But in a preliminary vote prior to the the board’s June 21 budget vote, the board agreed to continue funding the group.
The nonprofit, which has received county money for two previous years – including $75,000 last year – offers academic programs to almost 500 kids per year. Its summer program provides academic classes, with a focus on developing fine arts skills, to mostly Hispanic families. The county funding pays for the bulk of that program.
CSA requested $150,000 dollars from the county for the upcoming fiscal year. CSA operates on reimbursements, meaning it gets repaid for its services to the county after the money is spent.
The camp employs certified teachers, provides all of the instruments for music classes, includes two meals a day and offers Friday field trips for students.
CSA’s funding has come into question in the past. Last year the county withheld money from the CSA because it appeared its audit reported a $37,000 operating deficit. Funding was eventually granted after six months.
The nonprofit receives 93 percent of its support from public money. Patsy Burkins, director of CSA, said most of that comes from Mecklenburg County. She has tried to seek other sources of funding, but it often is not enough to make ends meet.
“Our outcomes have always been good. We are not in financial difficulties,” Burkins said.
The potential cut was discussed at a county commissioners budget meeting last week about community grant funding. Commissioner Vilma Leake spoke against the potential cut, saying the association provided a needed service.
Auditors for CSA, Simpson, Younce & Tedder said the nonprofit was not operating any differently than in previous years that it was granted funding, even saying that CSA’s finances have improved from previous years.
“Nonprofits usually do not operate on surplus,” CPA Don Tedder said.
While the county noted a positive net income of $9,688, it still was concerned about CSA’s total debt of $135,053 and the total assets of $107,764. This leaves a $27,289 budget shortfall.
But Burkins said the financial picture is not as bad as it might appear: $46,232 of the liabilities came from accrued expenses, which were cleared after paying CSA staff.
Michael Bryant, budget director for the county, said that in previous audits there were no accrued expenses listed.
CSA has also borrowed money from its director and board members, which concerned the county. But Burkins said that reflected trust within the program.
Tyler Fleming; 704-358-5355, @tyler_fleming96