Local groups ask for city funding


City budget committee officials heard presentations from five local groups Tuesday at a public hearing meant to help the Socorro City Council determine who gets what for the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal year.

Budget committee members are expected to recommend funding to the full council for the groups who attended Tuesday’s meeting. They will issue their recommendations at next Tuesday’s budget meeting at 11 a.m.

The groups who asked for funding included Animal Protective Association of Socorro, the Mayor’s Drug Task Force, Puerto Seguro Inc., the Socorro Storehouse and the Worlds of Wonder Enrichment Academy.

The last two fiscal years, the city funded six groups for a total of $24,460 for both years each. This year, the city would pay $44,500 if city councilors decided to fund the requested amounts.

Mable Gonzales, the city’s treasurer, said she didn’t have a concrete figure on what the city could spend on funding the groups. The committee is comprised of Gonzales, councilors Mary Ann Chavez-Lopez, Nick Fleming and Donald Monette.

The bulk of the total amount comes from a request from the Worlds of Wonder Enrichment Academy. The academy is a current subcontractor with the city and is asking for $22,220 for 10 months worth of services during the school year.

The academy, run by Demetria Richardson, would help supplement an after school youth program for the city that teaches students five days a week. Richardson said the money would go toward services such as tutoring and the potential of adding a fine arts element to the program.

Richardson told a group made up of three councilors and the city treasurer that her program would serve an average of 65 students who are a part of the program.

She said Socorro students aren’t getting enough practice in math and science and in some cases, have had fine arts classes scaled back.

“There is not a lot of science, not a lot of math and music,” Richardson said. “We want to add those, plus fine arts.”

Duane Baker of Puerto Seguro Inc., an area homeless shelter, asked city officials for the same funding as the group received last year ― $8,300 — that would go toward costs to serve an influx of homeless people at the center.

“We have been trying to stretch our dollars,” Baker said. “Sometimes they are a little tough to stretch.”

Baker said some people rely on the center for a hot meal as much as three times each week. He said, in the past, Puerto Seguro used city funding to make structural improvements to the center.

He said improvements have made people feel more at home.

“We are trying to make them feel comfortable,” Baker said. “We want to make them feel like they are worth something.”

The Socorro Storehouse, an area food pantry, asked for a $1,000 increase in city funding for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The pantry, run by Nadine Ulibarri-Keller, is in need of funding to keep up with the rising cost of food, according to Nadine Ulibarri-Keller, a volunteer with the group.

Ulibarri-Keller said the cost of food has tripled from last year to this year. She said the pantry tries to provide food for families of four people. The group asked for $7,000.

“We can’t believe how much it’s costing us to feed people.”

Nyleen Troxel Stowe of Animal Protective Association of Socorro asked for the same amount of funding — $3,000 — for the upcoming fiscal year.

That funding would go toward the organization’s spay and neuter program. The group fixes around 300 animals per year and helps low-income families with fees associated with spaying and neutering family pets.

The Mayor’s Drug Task Force, a group that aims to teach drug awareness to the community’s youth, would receive $4,000, an increase of $500 from last fiscal year if the city council approved the request.

All funding requests must be approved by the full council. The 2012-13 fiscal year begins July 1.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.