Human service budgets

Volunteers from One22 Resource Center and Hole Food Rescue prepare Thanksgiving meals to give away to community members in 2020. Both human services nonprofits will receive funds from Teton County, along with a slew of other service providers who requested money from the Teton County Board of County Commissioners ahead of the 2022 fiscal year, which starts in July.

County commissioners intend to fully fund budget requests from Teton County nonprofits that provide senior care, shelter for teens in crisis and subsidized mental health care, among other services.

“I think that’s great,” said Deidre Ashley, executive director of the Jackson Hole Community Counseling Center, one of the nonprofits set to receive its full request for the upcoming fiscal year.

Ashley serves on the Wyoming Association of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers, a state association with directors from other Wyoming community mental health centers like the Community Counseling Center. She said that Jackson and Teton County “by far are the most supportive” local governments in the Equality State.

“I don’t think we’d be able to have the level of services that we have here without that,” Ashley said.

The Jackson Town Council and Teton County Board of County Commissioners both fully funded human service requests for the current fiscal year 2021, which ends in June.

That support came despite a budget season dominated by concerns about pandemic-driven revenue shortfalls.

During ongoing budget discussions about the upcoming 2022 fiscal year, which starts in July, the Town Council and Board of Commissioners jointly heard funding requests from human service agencies. The two bodies receive separate requests, and review and decide whether to fund those requests separately.

The Town Council has not yet considered how it will fund human service providers. The county board has, at least initially. A final decision will come in June when it wraps up its budgets for FY ’22.

Still, commissioners decided Tuesday they were comfortable with all requests in the “human services” portion of the county budget — a line item that funds organizations including the Community Counseling Center, the Community Safety Network, which supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and Hole Food Rescue, which diverts edible food from landfills and provides groceries to residents in need.

Board Chair Natalia D. Macker told the Jackson Hole Daily that she thinks spending on human services is a “good investment of public dollars.”

“The stability of that sector is very linked with our community’s ability to thrive,” she said.

Other service-oriented agencies are also slated to receive county funds.

The county’s recommended human services budget for the Fiscal Year 2022 sits just north of $1.7 million. That’s up about $200,000 from what was approved for the current fiscal year.

Commissioners also decided to fund for the first time the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum and Cultivate, a nonprofit that spun out of Vertical Harvest of Jackson Hole to help make workplaces inclusive for people with disabilities.

Those two organizations have applied for funds in the past but have been denied. They are now slated to receive public dollars — $11,400 for the museum and $5,000 for Cultivate — under the county’s “community development” line item. That’s a wider ranging budgetary grouping that tends to include spending on some government agencies as well as partner nonprofits.

Voices JH, a new group that aims to help immigrant and other households with limited-English proficiency connect with community organizations, will also receive $5,000 in county funds for the first time.

County commissioners do not intend to revisit the human services budget discussion, Macker said, so the numbers will likely stick. But the board did want to review how some agencies receive money under Title 25, a state statute that dictates how to fund services for people who are involuntarily hospitalized.

And while the Town Council has not made any decisions about its share of human services funding, at least one member of the five-person board is interested in meeting the requests.

“I am comfortable with what was presented and actually have noted down three or four of the items that I may want to increase,” Vice Mayor Arne Jorgensen said. “The nonprofit sector that these represent play a critical role in providing services to the community, and they are facing budget headwinds that are very significant at a time that demand is going up, particularly now with COVID.”

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Teton County Reporter

Previously the Scene editor, Billy Arnold made the switch to the county beat where he's interested in exploring Teton County as a model for the rest of the West. When he can, he still writes about art, music and whatever else suits his fancy.

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