Nonprofits in York County continue to feel state budget impasse pinch
Almost immediately after Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the Republican-drafted state budget at the end of June, some York County-run service agencies stopped paying contracted service providers because of the lack of incoming state funding.
More than two months after the budget impasse started, invoices from service providers are beginning to mount at the county's Office of Children, Youth & Families.
Some of those invoices are from the York County Children's Advocacy Center, which investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. The center hasn't been paid for services it provides to the county for two months, amounting to $10,000 to $11,000 each month so far, said Deb Harrison, its executive director.
"For us, we're a tiny agency, so it's not a small amount to us," she said, adding the center had to open a line of credit.
The center will be paid after a budget is passed, but that does nothing to help it now.
State money: Compounding the fiscal distress of not being paid by the county, an already approved state Commission on Crime and Delinquency grant is not being given to the center on a monthly basis as it should be, amounting to about $5,000 a month, Harrison said.
That direct state funding was cut off in July as part of the impasse, and Harrison said she's trying to open that funding stream but, so far, to no avail.
Though state and county funding have temporarily come to a standstill, the reports of child abuse have not.
So far this year, the center's five employees have handled 560 reports, surpassing the 554 reports it handled for the whole of 2014. Harrison is projecting the center will investigate 680 to 700 cases by the end of this year.
"You can't postpone child-abuse investigations," she said. "You can't just ignore the safety of children."
Harrison said the center can financially make do until the middle or the end of the October, but if funding doesn't start rolling in, it's not clear what will happen.
The budget impasse could have a trickle-down effect on employees if they are furloughed, something the center hasn't considered doing, she said.
"It truly has an effect on the ground," Harrison said. "It think it would have an immediate effect on people being able to meet their own obligations."
County: At the county level, the Human Services Department also halted payments to service providers, and the Area Agency on Aging stopped accepting new consumers seeking services, such as personal care and home-support services, and started adding them to a waiting list.
The agency receives roughly $10.3 million annually, much of which comes from the state through lottery revenues, to fund its operation. Though lottery numbers are still drawn daily and people continue to buy scratch-off tickets, revenue from sales is essentially stuck in Harrisburg because there's no budget.
The Wolf administration and the GOP have locked horns over the budget for the past few months. Wolf, who put forth his own $31.6 billion budget proposal, vetoed the entire Republican-drafted $30.2 billion budget at the end of June.
Critics said Wolf should have instead issued line-item vetoes on aspects of the GOP budget he didn't like.
YWCAs: A few weeks after the impasse started, YWCA York opened a line of credit and has started to tap into it to ensure it continues to provide its much needed services and to meet payroll, said CEO Jean Treuthart.
"We have been using that line of credit so we can continue operations as normal," she said.
The organization at 320 E. Market St. in York City receives $2.3 million — about 37 percent of its budget — annually from the state to fund its learning centers and rape crisis services and to operate two domestic violence shelters.
While YWCA York has tapped into its line of credit, the Hanover YWCA has exhausted its credit line. That left the organization to tighten its fiscal belt while reaching out to other organizations for financial assistance, said Jody Shaffer, executive director.
But with the lack of state funding, YWCA Hanover hasn't been able to pay some of its bills, she said, adding she feels like the agency is being held hostage by the impasse.
"It's day by day getting more worrisome," Shaffer said.
YWCA Hanover provides child care to 75 children daily and helps hundreds of people in domestic violence situations yearly.
Shaffer said she is hopeful the organization doesn't have to cut back on those services.
"If someone in a domestic abuse situation comes looking for help, we don't want them to find a door that doesn't open. That's not an option for us," she said.
Libraries: Though the York County Library System received its lion's share of state funding for the year in January, it still hasn't received a little more than $300,000 it's owed because of the impasse, said Susan Davidson-Linton, vice president of finance.
The 13-library system received about $1.3 million in state funding at the start of the year, she said.
The library system also received $2.45 million this year through the county's dedicated library tax.
Since the added $300,000 hasn't rolled in, it puts the system in a tighter situation, but Davidson-Linton isn't expecting it to have a huge impact.
"We're not anticipating any cuts," Davidson-Linton said.
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.