ADEC leader defends budget request
Posted: 09/12/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Angelle Barbazon
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Darryl Riegsecker 2007
Paula Shively ADEC 2/8/2010 (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
Budget hearings for the county’s 2013 spending plan started Tuesday morning, and one of the first presentations came from ADEC, an organization that serves more than 1,000 adults and children with disabilities in Elkhart County. ADEC’s request for $450,500 revived a conversation among Elkhart County Council members about whether the group should be doing more to independently raise money for its programs.
ADEC is the only nonprofit organization that receives funding from the county. The county’s contribution coupled with the group’s fundraising efforts and donations from the United Way accounts for 4 percent of ADEC’s entire budget, Shively said.
A major portion of the county’s contribution covers ADEC’s guardianship program. The program helps about 55 clients who are declared by the courts to be unable to make decisions on their own because of their disabilities, Shively said.
Councilman Darryl Riegsecker pointed out that, unlike other nonprofit groups, ADEC holds only one fundraiser each year to benefit its programs. ADEC’s annual Ride-a-Bike event raised close to $69,000 this past spring.
“I don’t know why you guys don’t try to do more fundraisers to raise some of the money, so the government is not responsible for giving as much money as we do when we’re trying to cut our budgets,” Riegsecker told Shively. “That’s my concern. It’s not that I have anything personal against ADEC. I was elected to watch the budget, where the money goes, and that’s why I’m questioning it today.”
Dennis Sharkey, council vice president, also voiced concern, echoing Riegsecker, that other nonprofit groups may try to follow ADEC’s lead by asking for county funding.
“I don’t think Darryl or anybody up here is condemning what they do,” Sharkey commented. “I think we all know they are doing a very admirable job and a necessary job. We appreciate what you’re doing. We’re just concerned because we’ve been cutting our budgets.”
Shively noted that the leaders of ADEC do not consider themselves more important than other nonprofit organizations in the area.
“Look at our budget,” she told the councilmen. “We are a government contractor. We have $18 million to $19 million that comes in to us through Medicaid, and when the board of directors hired me in 2001, they hired somebody to efficiently and effectively contract those services with the government. They knew I wasn’t a fundraiser.”
Instead, Shively described herself as a “business person.”
“One of the things that people don’t understand is that fundraising costs money,” she said. “When most agencies report on a fundraiser, they report the gross, but there are expenses involved in doing that. There are expenses in every special event fundraiser.”
Council president John Letherman noted that ADEC assumed extra responsibility of caring for the disabled population after the Elkhart County Home closed in 1977.
“What you’re doing is really, really important,” Letherman told Shively.
The council will continue budget hearings today, Sept. 12, at the Elkhart County Administration Building in Goshen with work sessions scheduled for Thursday and Friday. The council plans to adopt the county’s 2013 budget Sept. 28.