Village President Alex Torpey sits alone after the South Orange Board of Trustees decided to take an impromptu break at Monday's meeting. (Photo: Amy Kiste Nyberg)
Accepting the Villager of the Month Award for Seton Hall University's Division of Volunteer Efforts are, from left: the Seton Hall Pirate, Tom Russomano and Michelle Peterson. Nancy Heins-Glaser, right, presented the award at Monday's meeting. (Photo: Amy Kiste Nyberg)
South Orange Cuts Funding 20% for Community Coalition on Race, YouthNet
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 • 1:31am
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The Board of Trustees voted to reduce funding for two nonprofit groups by 20 percent at its meeting Monday after devoting nearly half of its four-hour meeting to the issue.
Trustees voted 3-2 to appropriate $12,000 for YouthNet and $18,000 for Community Coalition on Race in the 2012 budget. Trustees Janine Bauer, Deborah Davis Ford and Mark Rosner voted in favor of the funding, while Trustees Michael Goldberg and Howard Levison voted no. Trustee Nancy Gould was absent.
YouthNet provides enrichment programs to children in the South Orange-Maplewood School District. Community Coalition on Race promotes policies and programming to support an integrated community.
The decision came after a sometimes heated debate among trustees. Davis Ford said she was adamant that the organizations be treated the same, saying she was concerned about “a perception of fairness.” Levison argued the board should take into account the merits of each group. “I think YouthNet is doing a better job of controlling their funding,” he said.
Two other votes were taken on funding for YouthNet and CCR. A motion made by Bauer to cut funding for CCR to $17,475 was defeated 3-2, with only Rosner supporting Bauer. Bauer then proposed eliminating funding to both groups, but her motion was not seconded. Her motion to approve each group’s original request was defeated 3-2, with only Davis Ford supporting her.
In an unusual turn of events, board members took an impromptu break, leaving Torpey sitting alone at the front of the room. It was after trustees returned to their seats that the board approved the reduction in funds.
More than a dozen people spoke about funding for CCR during the public comment period. Most of the speakers favored continuing the village’s funding for the group. Many said that financial support is indicative that the trustees considered the work of the CCR important. Three speakers urged the board not to appropriate money for CCR.
Former village President William Calabrese said he remembered when representatives from Community Coalition on Race first spoke to the board. “I found people who were going to help me make this community into what I really wanted to make it into – something special and unique,” he said. “And I gave my commitment that night, and they did make it something special and unique.”
Robert Chandross said the village cannot afford to support nonprofit groups. “I have sat and watched and attended trustee meetings week after week to hear the same speakers make the same issue,” he said. “I have a feeling that if they put half the effort into raising their own funding that they put into trying to browbeat the Board of Trustees, they would have raised well over the amount of money they want from the trustees.”
Village Administrator Barry Lewis Jr. said YouthNet requested $15,000 from South Orange and its total budget is $76,200. CCR was asking for $22,500, with a total budget of $142,950. While a YouthNet representative said this was the last year the organization would request funding from South Orange, the CCR executive director said they would need continued support because without municipal funding “we’ll be a different organization.”
In other action:
honored the Division of Volunteer Efforts at Seton Hall University as “Villager of the Month.” DOVE Director Michelle Peterson said that 2,500 students contribute 27,000 hours of community service. Accepting the award were Peterson, DOVE Assistant Director Tom Russomano and the Seton Hall Pirate.
heard a quarterly report on the South Orange Performing Arts Center. Although attendance is up over 2011, SOPAC Board of Governors Chairman Anthony Leitner said they did not expect to break even this year.
authorized purchase of an aerial ladder truck at a cost not to exceed $735,787. Fire Chief Jeff Markey told trustees that when the bid came in higher than expected, he was able to amend a grant request to obtain additional funds, so the cost to the village will be $36, 789.
- tabeled an ordinance approving a revised charter for the township.