Perry Township Board Meeting Minutes: September 13, 2018
The meeting is called to order at 4:30 pm
Members Present: Barb Sturbaum, Susie Hamilton, Jack Davis, Dan Combs
Non-Members Present: Pat Combs, Sharon Yoder, Novella Shuck
Agency Representatives Present
- Mark DeLong, Amethyst House
- Vicki Pierce, Community Kitchen
- Forrest Gilmore, Friend's Place
- Amy Stark, Girl's Inc.
- Julio Alonso, Hoosier Hills Food Bank
- Daniel Watts, INterfaith Winter Shelter
- Sarah Cahillane, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard
- Emily Pike, New Hope Family Shelter
- Christopher Haynes, New Leaf New Life
- Bethany Turrentine, VITAL
- Mary Goetz & Iris Kiesling, Made Up Mind (MUM)
- Jack Harlow, Mary Goetze, and Iris Kiesling, Kids with Absent Parents (KAP)
- Bruce Terry, Courage to Change
- Funding Request from Community Groups in Bloomington
- Budget Review
- Court Advocate (rainy day)
- Bus Stop (rainy day)
- Interfund Borrowing
Funding Requests from Community Groups in Bloomington
There were twelve agencies present making funding requests this year. They are Amethyst House, Community Kitchen, Friend’s Place, Girl’s Inc, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Interfaith Winter Shelter, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, New Hope Family Shelter, New Leaf New Life, VITAL, Made Up Mind, and Kids with Absent Parents. A thirteenth organization, Mt. Salem Cemetery Protection Society, is currently undergoing a reorganization of their board and is not present for this meeting. If the agency does not survive through this reorganization, control over the cemetery’s upkeep will revert back to Perry Township. Bruce Terry with Courage to Change was merely present to observe the meeting. Each organization that had already received Township grants in the past either gave short updates on their work and their grant requests, or answered questions from the Township.
Susie asks if residents from Wheeler Mission ever come to Amethyst House and Mark states that they do have some referrals from there.
They are within $4,500 of paying off their mortgage. Additionally, their dining room traffic has gone down this year for the first time since the recession. Vicki states this shows how long it takes to reach stability after an event like that, and that the lowest-income people are the last to see their fortunes increase after the economy improves. They have had a growth in the Backpack Buddies program, and have served over 70,000 through their snack programs.
Shelter operations there are going smoothly. They have continued to see the same number of residents, almost at full capacity every night. The new director has been there about one year. Susie asks if residents at Crawford Homes pay rent, and Forrest says that residents do, but it is based on their income. Forrest also states that 67% of the residents at Friend’s Place move into permanent housing after their shelter stay.
They are currently working hard to provide transportation after school to girls who do not have it. Currently they are only able to provide transportation to children at Fairview Elementary, and are attempting to expand this service to Templeton Elementary next. Their focus is on finding drivers and on finding rides home for the girls at the end of the day.
Hoosier Hills Food Bank
They did revise their grant request a bit this year. The township grant has always supported leveraging national food donations through Feeding America and transportation costs. When this program started, it was all about dry goods. In the last few years they have really worked to bring in produce and their ability has expanded significantly. Hoosier Hills pay a small processing fee to farmers to package the food and distribution is up 17%. It is hard to see if the need for food in the community is increasing or not, as these numbers reflect more the capacity for distribution than demand.
Interfaith Winter Shelter
The shelter will now be located every night at Wheeler Mission. Wheeler Mission has seen its numbers go up through the summer, seeing 90 guests every night. They are therefore concerned their winter numbers will be even higher. The winter shelter will do more in terms of services and will provide food at 8:30 or 9:00pm. They will also not need as many volunteers to cover overnight shifts, which was one of the most difficult things to coordinate in years past. The Interfaith Shelter will serve individuals from November 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. It is still a low-barrier shelter.
Mother Hubbard's Cupboard
This year, Monroe County is #2 in the state for food-insecure populations. The average food cost of a meal for Monroe County residents is $3.05 per meal, the second highest in the state.
New Hope Family Shelter
They state that their shelter is always full, and they see the need for family shelter continue to rise. New Hope has an 86% success rate in their residents exiting to stable housing. They have also begun an early childhood initiative and their childcare has received national accreditation. Nearly one half of their population comes from Perry Township, but this is actually down from previous years because they have done some interventive services. To house an individual it costs the agency $49.00 per person per night.
New Leaf New Life
Christopher Haynes is present as a stand-in for Dave Meyer, their development director. They have requested $10,000 from Monroe County Cares to support two positions but were only granted $2,011 so that will only go towards one of two positions, the TSC manager. They wanted to fund a jail social worker too but they are just not able to at this time. Even with the Township’s assistance it would only cover one third of one of these job positions.
They have launched a Step One Digital Literacy program. This includes filling out forms, job applications, long term operating windows, email, etc. Dan notes that VITAL funding comes out of township assistance funds.
New Funding Requests
There are two new organizations making grant requests this year, Made Up Mind (MUM) and Kids with Absent Parents (KAP). They each made a presentation about their organization and about what their grant request would fund.
Made Up Minds (MUM)
Made Up Minds (MUM) is a new nonprofit organization aiming to provide complete wrap around services for individuals leaving incarceration. Their goals include meeting clients at the jail when they are released, getting them directly into housing (currently at Timber Ridge), and offering a full program, including employment, food, and housing. Participants in the program would also be expected to do community service, and they are under oversight of the program 24/7. It is expected to be a one-year program, and there are a number of employers who are interested in accepting them because the program has so much oversight over the client beforehand. MUM has two residents now and wants to admit two more soon. They will take residents directly from prison or jail (upon release) and attempt to get them engaged with the Centerstone POPS program, but also offer additional supervision through MUM. Residents are supposed to have saved back $1,000 of their income by the end of their year in the program, and MUM will have significant control over their income while they are in the program, though clients still have a say. Rent through the MUM program will not be based on income, and will instead be $350 per month. At the moment the program is only for men, but they want to expand it to women as well if MUM have resources.
Dan asks if New Leaf New Life was asked to spearhead or consult in the formation of this program, because it appears they have significant overlapping functions and goals. They state that New Leaf New Life is not involved because there are significant differences in what they do, providing housing and giving the clients jobs. Christopher Haynes with New Leaf New Life at this time states that these two functions have never been a part of their organization’s functions, as they already have so many other responsibilities. The founder of Big Boy’s Moving is a big supporter of placing formerly incarcerated individuals into employment with them, and had been asked a number of times to become a nonprofit organization themselves, but they declined. The idea for this nonprofit was then spun-off into MUM, as New Leaf New Life offers only broad support for a broad number of individuals. Because of Big Boy’s Moving, nineteen individuals have gone through the program and only two have gone back to jail. Some of the individuals come from the Department of Corrections (DOC) and some from jail, but they are not actually soliciting the DOC for clients. As word has spread they have started getting inquiries. MUM estimates they spend $25 per person per day for food, which Dan states is high compared to Community Kitchen’s cost of $3 per meal. Susie states that MUM should prioritize helping Monroe County residents only.
Kids with Absent Parents (KAP)
This organization is an assist support group for kids with parents in jail. They have about twelve families with 20 children involved in their program so far. This also gives adults the opportunity to network with each other. KAP can take referrals for families of local kids where one or other parent is in DOC. Jack Harlow, who is involved with this organization, was actually the old commander of the jail in the 1990s and is serving as a department liaison as the department is working on program forms to keep interaction with incarcerated parents going. KAP is also able to offer support and have conversations with the parent who is not incarcerated, which is important because so many children and parents are involved with the Department of Child Services. Children are going through traumatic experiences and 1,000 kids (at a minimum) in this community are affected by this. This is a hard community to identify without a network, and KAP helps the children make friends with each other. They meet in the building at Girls Inc. and they have “Bigs” from Big Brothers Big Sisters coming in too. These children will get priority placement in this program. KAP is currently acting under the 501c-3 status of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington and does not see a need to become their own 501c-3 organization at this point. Mary states that all their participants are Monroe County residents.
Perry Township Food Pantry
Allocations for this are discussed in the budget discussion below.
Emergency Shelter (set aside) Friend's Place
The Township would like to build its rainy day fund back to its previous levels, and since we are funding fewer community groups we have that flexibility. This set-aside is not to fund the non-profit Friends Place, but to fund the facility directly if needed. By putting these funds in the rainy day fund, we avoid having to make an appropriation in the future.
Dan would like to allocate money into the rainy day fund for a potential future project, a court advocate. The idea behind a court advocate is that it is easier to repair a family in crisis than to build a new thing. Dan heard an NPR program that discussed a program where someone in social services is present in court during eviction hearings and could give the judge an unblemished picture to the judge of the resources someone has available and what programs they have already burned through. Dan would like to put $15,000 into the rainy day fund so that it is there if we want to have a serious discussion in the future about partially funding a hire for this, in collaboration with the Housing Network. It would help us to intervene with clients at a higher level than we already do.
Barb asks who the Township would have be in court, and Dan states that he would rather the Housing Network or Shalom Community Center get an employee to do this, and the Township involvement is merely to provide them a grant for this. That way, Perry Township can provide this service for Perry Township residents and other agencies can potentially provide additional funding to make sure this service reaches their own residents. Dan asks Forrest if the Housing Network would be willing to help Perry Township get a proposal going, and Forrest states that the Housing Network at this time is an organization with no budget. They would certainly support it but would not be the organization to run it. Forrest also states that if they were asked to write a proposal he would likely be the one to write it. Barb states that if this moves forward the Township should definitely pay the individual to write it. Susie asks what outcome the Township is trying to achieve through a court advocate and Dan says the outcome is coming up with the money for an individual to pay the landlord and avoid eviction. He states that the board can come back in January to talk more about this potential project, but that he is discussing it now so we have the opportunity to put funds in the Rainy Day fund for this possibility in the future.
While Forrest is present, he comments further about what Community Kitchen said earlier, about falling meal numbers. He states that Wheeler Mission is now serving meals too, and that may be a contributing factor. For instance, after Crawford Homes opened and took a big population off the street, Shalom’s numbers decreased and never recovered to previous levels.
Dan states that the Township budget always allocates $5,000 for purchasing food for the Township food pantry when supply from Hoosier Hills Food Bank is low. This year he is asking for $10,000 instead of $5,000 to purchase food in the summer, which has proven to be the point of lowest supply, and the trend is increasing. These funds also used to come out of township assistance funds, but we have now been told that it needs to come out of community grants instead. Additionally, Dan is having Jayla communicate with Julio at Hoosier Hills Food Bank to do a food drive at our office to build up reserves.
Pat has been assigned the project of getting a bus shelter for the bus stop near our Township office. It has been put on the schedule for the next city transportation meeting, and the city’s decision is based on whether there is enough traffic at this specific stop to warrant it. The Township is willing to pay for part of the shelter cost if the city will not pay it all. Jack advises that we not be quick to volunteer this money, but that we can negotiate something after we see what the city is willing (or not) to do.
The growth quotient is 3.4%, so this budget asks for that increase in township assistance. There was an increase in amount budgeted for fuel, as the township gets almost no requests for propane, fuel, or wood anymore. It also calls for proposed salary increases of 2.5% (less than the 3.4% allowed), which includes a 1% cost-of-living increase and a 1.5% merit-based increase. In the township general fund, we asked for a 3.4% increase which is what we are funding, which includes the clerical/food pantry position. Dan is asking for this to become a permanent position. Jayla has worked at the Township for a year without benefits. She still will not qualify for health insurance because she is a part-time worker, but if she were made full-time, she could slowly accrue sick and vacation time.
There is an increase in money allotted for dues and seminars ($6,000 total) because we now have to have professional development. Sharon states that there are several expenses under this, including dues for the Indiana Township Association, the cost of attending the Opioid Summit, and taking classes, and the State Board of Accounts requires internal controls that everyone in the office has to receive training on now. The travel expense also goes up because the trainings often require travel.
Jack asks if the line item of $5,000 for training is in addition to $6,000 for dues and seminars, as that totals $11,000. Sharon states that the Township has allocated $11,000 total for essentially the same type of thing, and can call the budgeted amounts something else or combine them if that decreases confusion. Barb asks Jack if he is objecting to the amount budgeted or the description of the allocated amounts, and he states both. Sharon states that the training is for several people and is also all to do with the new internal controls implemented.
Sharon states that if the Township employees do not end up attending the expected trainings, the money will not be spent, but this is the budgeted amount for anticipated needs. Susie asks if the total amount allocated is always spent and Dan says that it has not.
Susie asks about the two amounts listed for insurance, and Sharon states that the cost is split between two funds, as health insurance is still incredibly expensive, even though we have saved a substantial amount after the Affordable Care Act was implemented. The amounts also have changed because Laura has left employment with Perry Township and the budgeted amounts were based on longevity pay. She also had a family insurance plan.
The totals for everything should have increased by 3.4% over last year, except for employees, which should have only increased by 2.5%. This got complicated because the township only has three case investigator employees, and there is the baseline salary for a case investigator, as well as additional appropriations for web, supervisor, and number-cruncher positions. The 1% increase in cost-of-living goes towards the baseline case investigator pay, and calculated merit-pay on top of that. For an entry-level position, the salary was calculated with cost-of-living factored in but not merit pay. Our pay used to be higher than the city’s, but now the City of Bloomington has set $15 as the entry level hourly wage.
Laura left Perry Township with 12 years of experience to work at Richland Township. Brandon has expressed interest in continuing to be in charge of calculating the annual TA-7 and other records responsibilities, as well as becoming senior case investigator. Novella will continue to be web coordinator and case investigator. It is pointed out that the budget calls the position two separate titles in separate spots, and Sharon states that she will fix that language. To fill Laura’s vacated position they advertised in the Herald Times (like they always do), but only received 12-15 applications. Barb and Jack advise that they put the advertisement online and on the Township website. Dan says that if they cannot find a good person for the job with the applications they received, they will advertise on the website and on indeed.com, which is discussed as the most popular job advertisement site currently.
The proposed general tax rate for 2019 is $0.0293, which is less than $.03 for every $100.00 valuation.
The Township has a bond payment of $32,782.50 coming up, and needs to borrow $19,281.00 from itself to complete that payment. This is because the payments were not set up to coincide with distributions. The Township needs to borrow from its rainy day fund and the loan would be paid back on 12/31/2018, and the Township has the other $13,000 on hand. This is basically a matter of paperwork.
Barb moves they approve the borrowing of $19,281.00 from the Township Rainy Day Fund, to be repaid on 12/31. Jack seconds the motion, and all vote “Aye.”
The next board meeting is set for Thursday, September 27th at 4:30.
Barb adjourned the meeting at 6:43pm.