Friday, February 26, 1999

Oahu nonprofit agencies
are left reeling from lack
of city funding

City's projected $130 million budget
shortfall is to blame for the 'gaping holes'
in agencies' budgets

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Officials of Oahu nonprofit agencies are unhappy with the announcement that they probably will not receive funding from the city in the coming budget year.

"I'm devastated, $65,000 is a lot of money to us," said Nanci Kreidman, executive director of the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline.

"We're critically dependent on it and that would leave a gaping hole. That's two staff positions and a portion of our insurance bill."

Garret Kawamura, deputy director of operations for Parents and Children Together, said the $100,000 it has been receiving funds about a quarter of the cost of operating the group's drop-in center. "The options are to downsize the program, but the demand is there so we'd look for alternate sources of income," he said.

Council Budget Chairman John Henry Felix cited the city's projected $130 million shortfall and the possibility that property taxes will be increased as reasons for his recommendation.

Last year, the Council gave $639,510 to 17 groups, including seven festivals heavily promoted by Mayor Jeremy Harris.

"Although that amount would appear to be insignificant to some, this year I cannot justify spending taxpayer dollars on any program not directly tied to city government responsibilities," Felix said in a prepared release.

Funding social services is a function of the state government, he said.

"I think our work is directly tied to city government responsibilities," Kreidman said.

She said her agency works closely with police and prosecutors and helps to relieve their burden with the hotline's service.

Kawamura said: "Each year we feel fortunate to receive funding but we understand both the city and state are going through tough fiscal times."

"These are tough times," echoed Michael Tiknis, executive director for the Honolulu Symphony. "I'm sure we're all going to have look at everything and see how we're going to do more with less."

Government has a responsibility to be a "partner" with nonprofit organizations, he said. "But we have to accept that the definition of that partnership is going to have to change some until the economy improves."

Tiknis said symphony officials "will just have to be better askers," seeking contributions from outside government to make up lost revenues.

The mayor is expected to submit to the Council on Tuesday his budget for the fiscal year, which begins July 1.

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