Mazomanie asking residents to raise funds for NWDSS

Joe Block

The Village of Mazomanie will be sponsoring a fundraiser for Northwest Dane Senior Services (NWDSS) through the end of this year, in an attempt to raise $10,000 for the organization. NWDSS operates in part based on contributions from the villages it serves. It asks each village for an estimate contribution every year. This year, NWDSS has asked the Village of Mazomanie for $8300.

As of right now, Village President Gary Harrop’s personal opinion is that the funds won’t be there.

The village’s yearly contribution to NWDSS declined in 2016 to $3000, and since 2017 has remained at $500. Over the same period, NWDSS has been asking for $5 per person, roughly $8000 per year. Since the cut in contributions, the village has received services on a pro bono, or free, basis.

If the village does not meet the ask of $8300 for 2020, services will have to be cut.

Harrop opened the discussion on the fundraiser with the following:

“We’ve heard a lot from folks associated with NWDSS in the past few weeks, and I’d venture to say there isn’t anyone sitting on this board who doesn’t recognize the importance of NWDSS and the services it provides to that group of elders who may not have family resources to fall back on and are dependent on outside services. We understand the importance of NWDSS.”

“The unfortunate issue is that we are faced with, of course, is the flood of 2018 and the impact its going to have on the 2020 budget for the village,” he said.
Harrop cited the example of a cut to the Village’s contract with the Dane County Sheriff’s Department, which will cause the elimination of the day shift officer. “When $145,000 is cut from essential village services to balance the budget, nothing remains to contribute taxpayer dollars to outside organizations without cutting village services further,” said Harrop.

“At this point in time there is nothing in the budget for NWDSS,” said Harrop. He said that a tentative budget showed the village with a surplus of $50.45 for next year.
The 2020 budget has not been completed, however. The finance committee creates and finalizes the budget, and the whole village board votes to approve it. The last finance committee was in Sept.

Village Trustee Natalie Biel noted this at the meeting:

“No decisions on the budget have been made. So for you to say there’s no money in the budget, and that’s a done deal, and we’ve spent this $125,000 savings from the law enforcement cuts, and were not redirecting that to another social services program,” she explained, “it’s just hard to eat, because nobody has seen these numbers. We haven’t had a finance committee [meeting] to talk about them, and its two people picking over this budget with nobody else’s input included in this.”
Harrop replied, “The budget will be reviewed by the full finance committee and ultimately the full board.” He continued, “I’ll tell you right now, there’s just no way we’ll be able to fund thru taxpayers’ dollars an entity that is not part of village government yet is important to the village.”

Biel said she felt like Harrop’s language about the budget was a “scare tactic.”

The motion on the table for the fundraiser was the following:

“Approve the use of village text and website services to sponsor a fundraiser for Northwest Dane Senior Services and authorize Natalie Beil to use social media on the village’s behalf using messaging consistent with that being used on the village website.”

Just before the vote, Beil asked the following:

“This [vote] is going to take [NWDSS funding] off the table for budget, right?”

“Yup,” said Harrop.

However, the finance committee still has to approve the budget, and then the village board.

Beil was the lone vote against the fundraiser.

Reached after the meeting, she said the following:

“I support Northwest Dane Senior Services and its mission 100 percent [and] I consider myself a strong advocate for the program. The reason that I voted “no” to the Village sponsoring a fundraiser to support NWDSS is because it is an irresponsible, short-term solution.”

Her reasons included:

“This is a reoccurring yearly ask for funding to provide crucial services to our increasing elderly population. It is unrealistic that the village will maintain a successful $10,000 fundraiser every year to support this program.”

She continued, “NWDSS does their own private fundraising efforts in our community, and our residents already support those efforts. Having this separate fundraiser could very well hurt the existing fundraising efforts.”

“The major cut to NWDSS funding was made in 2016, so the flood is not a reasonable explanation of why we are not supporting this program.”

“It is inappropriate that we are making decisions on how to alternatively fund the program when the budget is not finalized, and we have yet to have a finance committee meeting to discuss. It seems as though these decisions are already made before we even walk into a meeting.”

“It is my opinion that this will be a way to ultimately remove NWDSS from our budget. It is so important that Northwest Dane remains on our budget no matter how much is allocated, and whether or not a successful fundraiser exists. It’s been my experience that once a budget line is dropped, it’s not likely to be included again in the future.”
Beil also drew attention to the absence of NWDSS Executive Director Paulette Glunn.

“The director of Northwest Dane works directly with our Village Administrator on her budget request, if a fundraiser replacing her budget ask was on the agenda [the village administrator] should have assured she was notified.”

Glunn confirmed that she was not notified NWDSS was on the agenda for the meeting. The item read, “Village sponsored fund raiser for Northwest Dane Senior Services.” As is the case with village board meeting agendas, it was posted by the clerk in several areas around the village. The Star News receives a copy, as it has a standing request.

When asked why Glunn was not told NWDSS’ funding would be discussed at the meeting, Harrop said, “I review the agenda with Sue [Dietzen, Village Clerk/Treasurer]. I don’t know if she ever contacts [people on the agenda]. You’ll have to ask Sue.”

Dietzen said she provides copies of agendas to individuals who request them but has never been instructed to send agendas to specific individuals.

The Village-sponsored fundraiser kicked off with a post to the village website and a text message. Beil will be managing the social media aspects.

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