The city agency that distributes money to Tempe’s social services groups is having to make do with $115,000 less than expected.
A communications mix-up is being blamed for the City Council’s failure to receive, let alone pass, the Tempe Community Council’s request for a $140,000 budget supplement. That money, received in the two previous years, would have been added to the $1 million already budgeted by the city.
Instead, the TCC received a supplement of just $25,000, which will go toward helping low-income residents file their taxes and better plan their finances.
Because of the shortfall, TCC executive director Kate Hanley predicted there will be more people turned away when they are seeking assistance via food banks, utility assistance and bus passes.
City Councilwoman Shana Ellis, a member of TCC’s board, said the agency had asked for supplemental funding in previous years because the struggling economy meant more people needed social services.
But during budget planning for the 2008-09 fiscal year, Ellis said, all departments were told to hold down, or cut, spending because the economic downturn was affecting city revenue.
Anything extra would have to be requested through a supplement — a supplement which, for some reason, never entered the budget process.
“Even if the answer was no, they would’ve had an answer,” Ellis said. “But there never was an answer, so the agencies couldn’t come up with a plan.”
City staffers are looking into a solution, Ellis said.
“It’s tough economic times, and now is when the agencies really need the help,” Ellis said.