How to make nobody happy

Published 10:50 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It’s a small pie that area nonprofit organizations have to share this year, and it’s a good bet that none of them will walk away from the table patting their bellies and looking for an armchair and a nap.

Suffolk City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn released her recommendations last week for local funding contributions to nonprofit organizations for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. In this era of falling state and local revenues and rising unemployment, the city had set aside just $225,000 this year to spend on nonprofit organizations, despite the fact that many of those organizations exist to help those most hurt by the struggling economy.

It was a simple matter of not having enough money to do many of the things that city leaders would have liked. As with most private Americans, City Council found itself in the position of needing to make some tough choices about how to spend the money in its shriveling accounts.


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To help make those choices, Cuffee-Glenn and several other city officials formed a committee that examined $729,000 worth of nonprofit requests to come up with a funding plan that ultimately is worth about a third of that amount.

Considering that most of the organizations did not get what they asked for — and several got nothing — there are sure to be some disappointed requesters if council accepts the city manager’s suggestions. There were very few organizations requesting money that didn’t deserve to get some help, as most are providing some sort of safety net for the citizens of Suffolk. And reduced funding from the city could put those nets in jeopardy.

Still, the reasoning offered along with the recommendations seems sound in most cases, and — despite the potential for objectionable outcomes under the closed-door approach taken to hashing out the recommendations — even those organizations widely reported to have been “pet” projects of city government saw their funding cut this year. In other words, the process seems to have worked, despite the potential it had for problems.

Nobody’s likely to be completely happy. Everybody’s going to have to look for new ways to raise money. It sounds like just what the average American is facing today. All in all, that seems appropriate.