City looks to reduce funding to outside agencies

Published 8:28 am Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Danville City Commission could be giving much less money to outside agencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commission unanimously approved the first reading of the city budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year at a meeting Monday evening. The proposed budget has been a topic of discussion for the commission for the last couple weeks, particularly with the funding of outside agencies. In the past, the city has provided funding for many outside agencies such as Heart of Danville, Shepherd’s House, The Great American Brass Band Festival, New Hope Food Pantry, the Senior Citizens Center, and others.

This budget, if it receives final approval, will provide funds for those organizations and many others, but at lower levels than expected due to the economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, the proposed budget provides a little more than $77,000 in funding for 17 outside agencies. When requests for funding were made, 20 agencies requested more than $275,000 in funding from the city.

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Among the outside agency funding are $5,000 for child development, $3,400 for family services, $26,000 for the senior citizens center, $200 for Veterans Day Appreciation, $10,500 for the Brass Band Festival, $400 for the nursing home ombudsman, $300 for the Sister Cities program, $100 for Bluegrass Community Action, $440 for Pioneer School of Drama, $600 for CASA, $1,100 for New Hope Food Pantry, $100 for West T. Hill Theater and Centro Latino, $500 for Boyle/Mercer Helping Hands, $400 for Grace Cafe, $25,000 for Heart of Danville, and $3,000 for Shepherd’s House.

Agencies that requested funding for fiscal year 2021 but are not included in the proposed budget are Citizens Concerned for Human Relations (CCHR), Arts Commission, Sunrise Children’s Services, and Out of My Mind Meditation. Sunrise Children’s Services and Out of My Mind Meditation were not granted funds from the city in the fiscal year 2020 budget.

Along with many of those outside agencies, the proposed budget also provides $50,000 for Planning and Zoning, while providing $70,000 for the Economic Development Partnership. Planning and Zoning initially requested $75,000 and EDP initially requested $100,000. Both of those entities requested the same amounts that they were budgeted for by the city in fiscal year 2020.

In the fiscal year 2020 budget, the city budgeted for nearly $200,000 in funding to outside agencies.

City Manager David Milliron has repeatedly noted during budget discussions that this budget will be a work in progress as the severity of the economic hit from the COVID-19 pandemic becomes clearer with regard to the city’s finances. A budget must be in place by July 1 for the upcoming fiscal year, but can be tweaked as needed when more information becomes available.

A full look at the budget can be found on the city’s website and a second reading of the budget will be held at the city commission’s next meeting.

The commission also got its first look at some proposed designs for the new fire station that will soon be under construction.

Joseph & Joseph + Bravura, which is based in Louisville, is the architecture firm tasked with building the new fire station.

The project is expected to be out for bid in July, and the bid could be awarded as early as August with construction likely beginning in September. The construction phase of the project is expected to take 12-14 months, meaning that the station would likely be finished in September or October 2021.

The new station will be located next to city hall.

The city was also awarded nearly $1.2 million in coronavirus relief funding through the CARES Act. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that $300 million was available for city and county governments. The Department for Local Government administers the funds through an application process.

The commission also approved a vendor agreement with Bluegrass Community Action Partnership, which received a grant to help pay utility payments for individuals in need of financial assistance. The agreement will allow the city to send individuals who are unable to pay utility bills to Bluegrass Community Action Partnership to apply for assistance.

During the meeting, Milliron praised the work of agencies such as the Convention and Visitors Bureau, EDP, Heart of Danville, Danville/Boyle County Chamber of Commerce, and many others who have organized the pop-up cafe at Weisiger Park. Milliron said it’s been a great success so far.

Commissioner Denise Terry backed up that sentiment and encouraged local residents to come out to the pop-up cafe and order food from local restaurants.

Commissioner Rick Serres said he wanted to publicly thank all the community organizations that are working hard to get the local economy running and the Parks and Recreation Department for working hard to get local parks ready for reopening.

Commissioner Kevin Caudill said he wanted to publicly acknowledge the Danville Police Department and thank them for their involvement with the recent protests.

“I frankly appreciate everyone’s behavior and the spirit they came with,” Caudill said. “I look forward to being able to get some things done.”

Commissioner James H. Atkins echoed Caudill’s comments, noting that this time in history isn’t just a moment, but a movement. Atkins also encouraged people to get involved and contact leaders of the local movement to see what steps they can take to become more involved.

The commission went into executive session to discuss a personnel issue. The commission remained in executive session for more than two hours before returning to open session but did not take any action upon returning to open session.