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Committee gets a peek at outside agency requests

November 23, 2010
While warrant article submissions are not due for another month or so, Budget Committee members got a feel for which outside agencies will request funds from taxpayers this year.

During the Budget Committee meeting last Thursday night four outside agencies' representatives explained their roles in aiding the community, and the community's role in keeping their services alive.

Executive Director of Community Health & Hospice Margaret Frankhauser informed the committee that while the organization has merged with VNA Hospice of Southern Carroll County, they still plan to request $25,000 from Gilford taxpayers, the same amount as last year.

"The headquarters is still in Laconia and money given by Gilford will still go to Gilford," said Frankhauser.

She said the purpose of merging organizations was to provide more services out in the public and reduce paid administrative staff positions at the same time. Frankhauser said the organization does not receive funds from the county but from individual towns that directly benefit from services.

One third of Community Health & Hospice's usage numbers stem from Gilford, which amounts to 23 percent of all services. Frankhauser said $49,000 was also given in charitable services to people who resided in Gilford this past year.

She stated that the overall budget for the organization adds up to $5.5 million and that these funds will cover hospice programs including nurses, physicians, medical and pharmaceutical services. Along with senior support services, the organizations also offers pediatric care for young mothers, single parents, and their infants.

Executive Director Maggie Pritchard of Genesis Behavioral Health said her organization is also seeking an equal amount from Gilford residents compared to last year's requested and granted $10,000 in funds. Pritchard stated that Genesis funded 160 people in charitable care last year.

While Genesis requests funds for emergency services from most surrounding towns in the Lakes Region, Pritchard said the organization worked closely with Gilford High School last year and would like to work with the community again.

Bob Adams of the Community Action Program said that his organization was voted in by Gilford taxpayers last year, and he hoped an $8,762 request would be fulfilled again. CAP consists of 56 percent federal funding and 44 percent town funding with an overall budget of $96,000.

"We try to keep people warm and keep the power on," said Adams. "Ten percent of the Gilford population is benefiting from these services."

He added that the 326 applications for fuel assistance in Gilford consisted of 645 residents. He said 35 percent of these residents are 60 and older and that 160 people in Gilford are at, or below, federal poverty guidelines.

Director of Development Ruth Zax of Child and Family Services said the organization has received funding from Gilford for the past seven years. In the past year, Zax said that 83 residents have received services that amounted to $30,000.

This year the organization will be requesting $3,500 from Gilford. Zax said Child and Family Services also served 11 Gilford teenagers with substance abuse problems in the last year.

"We mostly serve kids and their families and protect kids from abuse and neglect. We make sure parents learn proper parenting skills in order not to lose custody of their children," said Zax. "We are also working on an adolescent substance abuse program. This is a pilot project based on treatments proven to work with adolescents."

By working with Gilford High School in this pilot program for the last year, Zax said the organization was able to offer treatment for substance abuse services without the usual hassle of going through the court system.

The organization also hosts an annual summer camp for children in low income families, a charitably supported camp which a handful of Gilford children participated in this past summer.

"We have been in existence in Gilford for 160 years and times have certainly changed," said Zax, who stated that 80 percent of clients are below poverty level.

During the course of the Budget Committee meeting last Thursday night, the committee also heard from Executive Director of the Lakes Region Planning Commission Kim Koulet, who addressed an issue brought up at the town's Planning and Land Use Department budget review weeks back.

Some members of the committee had placed concerns over funding a government entity such as the LRPC and wanted to learn more about the purpose of its role in Gilford and the 30 surrounding towns.

Committee member Skip Murphy suggested cutting the $8,501 in funding of the LRPC from the Planning and Land Use budget. Committee members disagreed with the idea and said such a cut could create more chaos than it's worth, since the same process has been in place for years and a change may make some projects more difficult to complete.

A few committee members placed concerns over the LRPC's role in the community, since directors of town departments have taken more courses and undergone more education and certification in their fields than perhaps directors dating back to the 1970s when the LRPC first came about. However, committee members also said that ridding of funding could cost the town more money in memberships in the end and cause even more work to pile up on the desks of town directors. In the end, LRPC funding remained in the budget.

Martin Lord Osman
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