Following a handful of local nonprofit leaders pleading to have their 2021 subsidy applications approved on Monday at City Hall, the Mitchell City Council responded by funding them at a reduced rate.
Rather than approving all of the subsidy applications during Monday's meeting, the council backed a proposal to reduce the amount of funds being requested on the subsidy applications by 25%. However, the Mitchell Area Development Corporation, Convention and Visitors Bureau and Regional Economic Development, each had their applications approved without a 25% reduction.
Heading into Monday’s meeting, the council was proposing to deny all but three of the 16 subsidy applications that were submitted to the city this year. Each year, the city considers approving submitted subsidy applications that are designated for nonprofit organizations to receive city funding.
Roswitha Konz, mental health clinical director of Dakota Counseling, urged to the council to reconsider denying the subsidy requests. Dakota Counseling was one of the organizations at risk of losing their subsidy funds from the city, and Konz highlighted the increased demand for mental health services that COVID-19 has caused in recent months as a reason for the council to approve Dakota Counseling's subsidy request.
“The need for our services is increasing, and we have applied for all the loans that we can,” Konz said.
Among the organizations that the council was proposing to reject subsidizing in the 2021 budget were the Prehistoric Indian Village, Mitchell Main Street and Beyond, Friends Foundation of the Mitchell Library, Friends of Firesteel, LifeQuest, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Dakota Counseling, Helping Hand Pantry, VFW Post 2750, Creative Force Law Drive, Mitchell Area Safehouse, Mitchell Municipal Band and the Exchange Club’s fireworks display. The combined total of subsidy requests that were submitted by the organizations amounted to $181,750. After the council's approval to reduce the subsidy requests by 25%, that brought the total amount for the groups that were approved to $83,625. Although the dollar amount of each group’s subsidy application varied, the combined total for all of the applications that were approved amounted to $530,625.
The Mitchell Area Development Corporation (MADC), Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Regional Economic Development -- which are divisions of the Mitchell Chamber of Commerce -- were the organizations that submitted applications which the council proposed to approve from the start of the 2021 budget discussions in August. Between the MADC, CVB and Regional Economic Development, the groups request a combined total of $447,000 in subsidy funds.
Another caveat to the reduction of subsidy requests was basing the reduction off last year's (2020) applications that were submitted to the city, which meant all new 2021 applications that were submitted this year were eliminated from the list. That meant Friends Foundation of the Mitchell Library, VFW Post 2750, Friends of Firesteel, Creative Force Law Drive and the Helping Hand Pantry, were excluded from receiving any subsidy funds they request this year.
Council members Susan Tjarks and Dan Sabers have been pushing back on the proposal to deny the respective subsidy requests, pointing to the important services that many of the organizations provide for the city of Mitchell.
Tjarks pitched approving the subsidy applications with a 25% reduction.
“I think we will be shooting ourselves in the foot if we don't help these groups out," Tjarks said.
Council members Jeff Smith and Kevin McCardle represented the two votes to deny, pointing to the economic woes and financial uncertainty amid the pandemic.