WILLIAMSBURG — The City Council of Williamsburg held its monthly working session on March 7, during which council members heard presentations on fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding proposals and recommendations.
The agenda included two presentations, the first of which was presented by Williamsburg Area Arts Commission Chair Patricia Rublein.
“Over the past year, the community has enjoyed many different types of entertainment,” Rublein said while discussing how the Arts Commission has adapted in times of a pandemic. “We’ve had an outdoor community opera, we’ve had an opera in a parking garage and art galleries have been set up outdoors and, as we know, virtual performances have become the norm.”
Rublein says the Arts Commission has also sponsored public forums to provide technical assistance to its grantees. These forums were offered in spring and autumn, with the most recent forum being held last October called out “Shaking the Money Tree: Grants how to Get ‘Em”.
“This provided some very practical advice and gave groups specific sources of funding that might not otherwise know how to seek it,” Rublein said in her presentation to the Williamsburg City Council.
Regarding commission funding, Rublein said the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission currently has 25 grantees and applications for next year have increased to 32.
“It’s exciting to see new organizations on this list. In recognition of the good that the Arts Commission can do in our area,” said Councilor Caleb T. Rogers. “I’m also familiar with a lot of them and it would be good if some of them returned to a more normal place. Like an opera not in a parking garage. I applaud you all for being able to traverse this strange landscape that we’ve found ourselves in for the last few years anyway.”
The following organizations have requested funding for FY23:
The Arts Commission is funded equally by the City of Williamsburg and James City County. Commission funding includes a grant from the Virginia Commission For the Arts for each community.
The second presentation dealt with requests for funding from external agencies in FY23.
The Community Services Advisory Council reviews grant applications from partner agencies to assist Williamsburg City Council in supporting community service programs that benefit residents. Fifteen organizations were screened for grant funding for FY23.
DeAnna Valentine, Director of Human Services, and Social Services Advisory Board Chair John Morgan presented the FY23 grant proposals in addition to the board’s funding recommendations.
During her portion of the presentation, Valentine mentioned that the board made its recommendations based on five key considerations:
- Does the agency provide both necessary and direct services to city residents?
- Aren’t the services for city dwellers duplicable and cost effective?
- Are the services provided by the partner agency fast, accessible and affordable without denying a resident due to insolvency?
- Does the agency work closely and network with city social services staff and other agencies to avoid duplication or fragmentation of services?
- Is the amount of funding the city provides proportional to the amount provided by neighboring communities relative to the percentage of citizens served by the city and other communities?
“We’re looking closely at how many city dwellers are served by each program. That was a key component of this year’s recommendations,” said Valentine.
During his portion of the presentation, Morgan said: “It has been almost exactly two years since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all of our lives and during that time there has been an increased need for local residents, support for necessary housing and for to obtain food and security, psychological counseling and transport and services for the elderly.”
There are currently fourteen organizations, including the newly added Vacant Street Youth and Family Services, seeking FY23 funding.
Eight out of 14 applications have requested an increase in funding for FY23.
“While the Board recognizes that some agencies have not received increases in funding for several years, it also understands that current budget constraints will not support an overall increase in funding,” Morgan said. “The current recommendation is an increase in funding for Hospice House, Literacy for Life, The Arc for Greater Williamsburg, Williamsburg House of Mercy and Old Towne Medical and Dental Center. The total increase in funding for these agencies is $11,789.”
The board also recommended that two agencies, Advancing Community Excellence and Peninsula Agency on Aging, receive minimal increases to round up budget numbers. The total increase in funding for these two agencies totaled $220.
Organizations applying for FY23 funding include:
In total, the requested amount amounts to around 490,000 US dollars in funding. The recommended funding amount is $477,159, an increase of $10,009 from last year’s recommended funding.
“We are all very grateful for the hard work that is going into these considerations, especially when lives are at stake,” said Mayor Douglas G. Pons. “We all want to do as much as we can to help people and you and the committee obviously have a vested interest, as does everyone in the community, in making sure we help those who need it most. Hopefully, through these efforts, we will put dollars in the right hands that will ultimately reach the people who need help.”
The list of applications and all dollar amounts requested for funding can be found on the agenda of City Council Business Sessions.
The next regular City Council meeting for the City of Williamsburg will be March 10 at 2 p.m. at the Stryker Center