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Council okays cuts to service groups

For months, community service organizations have watched their city funding allocations fluctuate wildly as City Council members grappled with multi-million dollar revenue shortfalls.

On Wednesday, social and arts services received the final verdict on the scale of cuts the city would make in order to shore up a struggling general fund.

The cuts were not as deep as some had expected, and in large part the funding decreases were outlined in proposals set forth by both Bainbridge Health, Housing and Human Services and the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council.

“This helps (because) at this point every dollar is helping as we look at cutting solutions across the board,” said council member Hilary Franz. “And none of it is easy at all.”

HHHS agreed to a cut of $80,000, which included almost $30,000 in contingency reductions for new social service programs. HHHS distributes funds to support organizations that help low-income households and under-served residents.

The total amount of city-supported funds for the organization will be roughly $422,000 in 2009.

BIAHC also took a large cut, and will accept six months of funding to the tune of $136,000. That is less than half of the proposed funding set forth in the mayor’s draft 2009 budget.

The council also approved a two-year freeze on spending for the 2 percent public arts program.

Both contracts can be renegotiated at any point, but are unlikely to change before the end of the year.

The cuts were a continuation of last week’s city reduction discussions, which identified a $3.55 million funding gap.

“This doesn’t represent the best we can do,” council member Chris Snow said. “But it’s the least worst thing we can do.”

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