By: Dale King
For years, charitable and nonprofit organizations seeking financial help from the Boca Raton City Council as part of the annual budgeting process have had to line up to address council members from a podium in front of the City Council chambers. It often required them to reduce their proposals to brief statements that didn’t quite address their overall needs. And it also made for some lengthy hearings.
This year, coronavirus has forced municipal boards to conduct “virtual” meetings that prevented the public from gathering in the same session halls. So, members of the city’s legislative body had to find a different way for nonprofits to submit their requests.
In the end, they decided to allow groups seeking donations to present their requests in writing.
As it turns out, the process of using written proposals turned out to be a better system, at least according to Mayor Scott Singer. “Maybe the oral tradition can go away,” the mayor told his fellow council members at last month’s budget meeting, during the segment when they approved nearly a half-million dollars in allotments to aid charitable organizations.
Reflecting on the previous method of waiting to speak with council members at a live meeting, the mayor wondered: “Is there a more efficient way to do this?”
The council opted for written proposals this year to meet the requirements of COVID-19 avoidance while giving nonprofit groups their due amount of time. But it seems to have worked out better. “This year, no one did badly,” Singer said, looking over the list of approved amounts for nonprofits.
“Maybe we can categorize the requests – small vs. larger organizations. Maybe we don’t have to make a wholesale change,” he suggested.
The council normally juggles the figures at the final budget meeting so most charities, if not all, get some cash. As it turned out, council members this year distributed a total of $459,500 to more than 50 groups.
That’s exactly the amount given out by the council in last year’s budget, said City Manager Leif Ahnell.
During the discussion that preceded the vote, Councilwoman Monica Mayotte urged her colleagues to make sure that Boca Helping Hands receives sufficient money. BHH, which provides meals to the homeless and needy along with job assistance and cash for utility payments, among other things, received $35,000, down from the $40,000 it requested.
Among other community help groups receiving cash were Boca Raton’s Promise, $5,000; DISC, Inc., $7,000 (up from the $2,000 council members originally intended to give); Family Promise of South Palm Beach County, $8,000 and Junior Achievement, $1,000.
Other recipients of municipal funding from Boca included: 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast, $4,500; Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center, $2,500; Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA), $27,500; Alzheimer’s Community Care, $23,000; American Association of Caregiving Youth, $10,000; ARC of Palm Beach County $4,500; Best Foot Forward Foundation, $5,000; Boca Ballet Theatre, $9,000; Boca Raton High School NROTC, $3,000; Boca Raton Historical Society, $12,000; Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia, $10,000; Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County, $9,000; Boca Housing Authority CATS program, $20,000 and Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park, $10,000.
Also: Children’s Home Society, $15,000; Children’s Place at Home Safe, $15,000; CityHouse, $1,000; Cultural Consortium of Greater Boca Raton, $9,000; Debra Weiss Dance Company, $2,000; Eda and Cliff Viner Community Scholars Foundation, $1,000; Faulk Center for Counseling, $15,000; Florence Fuller Child Development Center, $50,000; Golden Bell Education Foundation, $22,500; Habitation Center for the Handicapped, $2,500; Habitat for Humanity, $5,000; Healing Sound of Music, $1,000; Healthy Mothers/Babies, $5,000; Hospice by the Sea, $20,000; IDDeal Foundation, $1,000 and Institute for Learning in Retirement, $1,000.
Also: Junior League of Boca Raton, $14,000; Kids in Distress, $2,500 KidSafe Foundation, $2,000; KidzCount, $1,000; Kindness Matters 365, $1,000; Mae Volen Senior Center, $20,000; Morningstar Community Solutions, $1,000; Place of Hope, $5,000; People Reaching Out To Provide Education And Leadership (PROPEL), $1,000; Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, $10,000; SCORE of South Palm Beach, $2,000; Shakespeare Troupe, $1,000; Spirit of Giving, $4,000; Sweet Dream Makers, $3,000; Tomorrow’s Rainbow, $1,000; Tri County Animal Rescue, $25,000; Twin Palms Center (Boca Raton Society for the Disabled), $5,000; Unicorn Children’s Foundation, $1,000 and Youth Orchestra of Palm Beach County, $1,000.