Governor’s order in August took millions of local public service projects


In August, following a meeting between the Capital Area Council of Governments and the governor’s office, 15 projects and nonprofits, including the SAFE Alliance and the Asian Family Support Services of Austin, lost the funding they had received. was offered in April.

Due to the strict timeline of this particular competitive process – projects apply in February and receive money in October – the groups of applicants who learned of the cuts in August were put in a tough spot, with only one month to recoup. hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The funding cuts came on a directive from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, despite more than $ 16 billion in unallocated American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The initial money came from Victims of Crime Act funding distributed by the federal government, generally sent to a number of victim service groups across the region. VOCA reservations are usually met by the prosecution and fine of white collar criminals. Under the Trump administration, however, reserves dried up. However, as a number of county commissioners have pointed out, the same projects would theoretically also be eligible for ARPA funding, according to Treasury Department guidelines. There’s even an ongoing discussion in the state legislature about filling the VOCA void with ARPA dollars.

But for impacted projects, this is not a guarantee. They will have to go through a whole new competitive process for funding.

The cuts were aimed at consolidating money for 10 more projects that were added after April, many of which received less money than they requested. Since COG money comes from grant money as well as the state, local state COGs are at least partially accountable to state guidelines such as Abbott’s.

Government councils are generally made up of municipal, county and city government bodies, with commissioners, county judges and local elected officials sitting on the councils. There are 24 COGs in Texas.

“He apparently asked a few other urban COG groups to do it as well,” Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea said. Austin Monitor. “I was not at all happy with the reconfiguration and either abstained or voted against.”

All of the relevant projects, which have been approved by the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, aim to help victims of abuse in one way or another. Now at least some of the affected organizations are heading to local governments to recover the lost money.

“In the pandemic, the need for crisis intervention services has increased by over 90% based on internal AFSSA statistics,” said Darlene Lanham, executive director of Asian Family Support Services in Austin. To watch in a written statement. Afssa only received 35% of the funding it requested following Abbott’s directive.

Other affected groups include the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, the Williamson County Crisis Center, the SAFE Alliance, the Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center, the Bastrop County Women’s Shelter, the Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, the Settlement Home for Children, the Ecumenical Center, Helping Hand Home for Children and American Bridges.

While a few of the projects involved came out of the funding cuts mostly unscathed – the Bastrop County Women’s Shelter kept 91 percent of its funding – other projects were cut by more than 60 percent. hundred. AFSSA and the Settlement Home for Children received 35% and 28% respectively of their planned funding from April due to the governor’s directive. The children’s residential home requested $ 515,674 from CAPCOG, but will only receive $ 144,989.

The Helping Hand Home for Children requested $ 352,986 in April, but will receive $ 293,576 from CAPCOG. Funding for the SAFE Alliance has been reduced by approximately $ 300,000; he asked for $ 1.88 million and will receive $ 1.59 million.

Photo made available via a Creative Commons license.

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