By Katie Dahlstrom
The Clinton YWCA will receive $15,000 from the city of Clinton to continue funding its domestic violence and sexual assault services.
YWCA leaders started a grassroots fundraising campaign last year to raise $100,000 after they learned their organization would lose funding because of the state’s plan to regionalize victims’ services.
The YWCA originally requested $53,000 from the city, which would have been more than half of their $100,000 goal. The city held off a decision until other city budget issues could be resolved.
Donations from eight other cities, Clinton and Jackson counties, businesses and individuals brought the YWCA to its $100,000 goal for this fiscal year before Clinton could decide whether to contribute.
During the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, City Council members tentatively pledged $15,000 to the YWCA. The vote was 6-0 with at-large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf, who is the co-chairwoman of the YWCA, abstaining. The funding still needs to be approved during a regular council meeting.
The funds will come from a $40,631 contingency fund that the city was not using to balance the general fund after the blow from Archer Daniels Midland’s decreased valuation. With the $15,000 contribution to the YWCA, the city will have $25,631 left in the contingency fund.
At-large Councilman John Rowland decried the state’s move to save money by regionalizing operations such as victims’ services, workforce development and social security when it sits on an $800 million to $1 billion surplus.
“You have to come to us for funding and we’re 90-some million dollars in debt ourselves,” Rowland said. “It’s just crazy to me that these programs are being packed up across the state and yet the end result is groups like yours come to the city to fund it when the state has such an enormous surplus.”
The state attorney general’s office in May notified 12 shelters, including Clinton, that they no longer will receive government funding. The money instead will be focused on eight larger shelters in Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Oskaloosa, Sioux City and Waverly.
Clinton is part of a 14-county region that also includes Davenport, Iowa City, Burlington, Muscatine and Keokuk.
Shelters that lost funding are in Dubuque, Atlantic, Ottumwa, Ames, Burlington, Clinton, Keokuk, Marshalltown, Mason City, Muscatine, Sioux Center and Spencer.
Ward 2 Councilwoman Julie Allesee criticized the regional shift, which has left Clinton without a number of services.
“It’s a tough thing and it’s worrisome for the people in our town that have no transportation, that are on social security, whenever there’s regionalization. It sounds like it’s going to Davenport and we need those services here,” she said.
YWCA Interim Executive Director Shannon Sander-Welzien said her organization does not plan on requesting the funding from the city every year, but needed to in order to maneuver through the first year of regionalization.
“It’s definitely not in our plans, but we want to keep our doors open through the transition of what’s yet to come,” Sander-Welzien said.
Rowland said he would not vote for future contributions.
“I’ll vote yes tonight to fund this request for one time and I am not going to do it after this, ever. Because I have been through this. I sat here and saw this council fund 20 to 30 organizations years ago and every one of them had as good a cause as any group. But there was a policy made by the council years ago to get out of the funding of all these organizations. I feel I’m breaking that commitment that I made years ago,” Rowland said.