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Front Page » Top Stories » Nonprofit Agencies Seek Alternatives To Attract Federal Matching Dollars

Nonprofit Agencies Seek Alternatives To Attract Federal Matching Dollars

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Written by on January 10, 2002

By Jaime Levy
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After being hit with budget cuts and increased demand at the end of 2001, leaders of Greater Miami’s nonprofit community said they are hoping to improve funding sources without allocations from the state’s beleaguered budget.

Slated to meet with state legislators Feb. 13-14, members of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce said they plan to present a four-pronged package that includes a revenue-maximization plan designed to make federal grants more accessible.

State law now requires matching funds for federal programs from local government. However, a draft of the chamber’s package argues that private money, such as that from the United Way, could be used to inject federal funds into local institutions.

"In order to not leave federal dollars on the table, the legislature has to consider changing its rules in terms of what constitutes a local match to draw down federal dollars," said Peter England, co-chair of the chamber’s not-for-profit legislative group and director of government and community relations at Camillus House. "At a time like this, where all our resources are stretched to the limit, we can’t afford the luxury of letting any federal matching money go."

The county’s nonprofits reported financial losses in the aftermath of Sept. 11’s terrorist attacks and the recession economy has translated to fewer – or smaller – charitable donations in recent months.

The state’s budget crisis – also exacerbated when tourism dollars stopped flowing into the state after the attacks – prompted cuts in funds to many social service providers during two special sessions late last year. As it stands now, social service providers say, Florida loses millions of dollars to communities that use more creative revenue tactics. To prove the point to legislators, the Alliance for Human Services has hired a Boston consultant who specializes in these strategies to prepare a report before they head to Tallahassee. The consultant, John Shaughnessy of Public Consulting Group, could not be reached for comment Monday.

"We feel that long-term, Florida is in a state of crisis," said Barbara Garrett, co-chair of the Alliance for Human Services’ public policy committee and senior vice president of Applica. "Unlike many states, we don’t come up with general revenue dollars that provide a match. As a result, our tax dollars are going to other states. If the state isn’t going to come up with the matching funds, we know there are ways to identify local funds."

Ms. Garrett, who is also a member of the chamber’s governmental affairs committee, said she is working with Rep. Sandra Murman of Tampa – chair of the House’s Health & Human Services committee – to draft legislation allowing each of the state’s counties to use non-traditional local matches to land federal funds.

In a draft of its legislative package, the chamber of commerce also highlights fair-share funding for education, the state’s commitment to the Miami-Dade Empowerment Zone and the creation of a regional transportation authority as key issues. Also, the chamber urged the Miami-Dade delegation "to work collectively and cooperatively with the other delegations in our region on all issues of mutual concern and benefit, with specific attention to legislation that impacts transportation, culture and education."

Leaders in the nonprofit community said they were hopeful that the revenue maximization plan would be well-received.

"It sets a good precedent," Mr. England said. "We’re not going there asking for money, but suggesting creative ways they can add money to the pot without appropriating any new state revenues. What would be the disadvantage?" Top Front Page About Miami Today Put Your Message in Miami Today Contact Miami Today © Copyright 2002 Miami Today designed and produced by Green Dot Advertising and Marketing

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