EVANSTON — Human Services Tri-Partite Board representative Jim Hissong gave an overview of the boards mission and duties at the Evanston City Council’s Aug. 8 work session, addressing questions regarding the Evanston Youth Club funding.
During a previous City Council work session, questions arose as to why the Tri-Partite Board did not fund the Evanston Youth Club, even though the board funded it in years past.
Hissong addressed these questions, also giving a detailed overview of the function and purpose of the Tri-Partite Board.
In 1985, the city council designated the Uinta County Community Board as the agent for community services in the City of Evanston. Today, the Human Services Tri-Partite Board continues to providing funding to agencies that provide human services within Uinta County.
The board’s mission statement is to promote, support and evaluate a comprehensive range of human services for all citizens of Uinta County.
The members have three primary goals to accomplish their mission: To promote effective and efficient human services, to determine how effective and efficient funded programs are and to support funded programs.
The board comprises nine members: three elected officials, three from the public sector and three from the low-income sector.
Hissong said few individuals come forward to serve on the board from the low-income sector, so board members are selected to fill these seats, many with experience in the low-income sector.
The Tri-Partite Board meets on the fourth Thursday every other month to review ongoing quarterly reports from funded agencies and to ensure comprehensive human services are provided to the citizens of Uinta County.
“We are reviewing reports to make sure they’re doing what they say they are doing,” said Hissong. “We also want to make sure we’re not funding several duplicate services, but providing comprehensive human services.”
Every three years, the Tri-Partite Board does a needs assessment, determining which agencies can and should be funded and setting a list of priorities for human service needs in Uinta County.
Hissong provided a document outlining the priorities for meeting human services needs in Uinta County:
The document further noted that, while senior services and youth services are not highly ranked, those programs are among the goals of the Community Services Block Grant funds, and if funding for those needs are eliminated for this need, problems could be exacerbated.
One confusion Hissong wanted to clear up was contributions from Bridger Valley towns.
“Mountain View and Lyman [haven’t] been asked to contribute to the board like Evanston has,” he said. “They receive less than 10 percent of funding and do contribute to human services.”
Hissong said Mt. View contributes $6,000 to seniors (Uinta Senior Citizens, Inc.) for operations and provides emergency maintenance, as well as contributing $750 to SAFV Task Force, $750 to YAHA, $500 to the Chamber of Commerce, $1,000 to the Sub-for-Santa program, building provisions for Bridger Valley Child Development Center and $1,000 toward the dog sled race.
“The dog sled race might be a questionable human service,” said Hissong, “but it is providing a community service.”
He said Lyman contributes $2,500 annually to YAHA, provides office space for the Chamber of Commerce and 4-H, has donated land for senior day care and gave $1,000 to the dog sled race.
Councilwoman Wendy Schuler said she was pleased to hear the valley towns do contribute but still had concern as to why they don’t contribute to the Tri-Partite Board.
Hissong explained the board’s challenges with ever-decreasing funding from the county and City of Evanston.
“In 2006-2007, we received $163,000 from the city and $320,000 from the county,” he said. “Over the years, contributions have decreased. This year, we received $135,000 from the city and county. Funding has decreased, but requests have not.”
He said it is difficult for the board to cut funding, because each agency is doing good work and helping people.
“If we were to cut funding from some of these agencies, they wouldn’t be able to provide the services,” he said.
Councilman Andy Kopp asked if the board reviews the overall financials of each agency, stating some of the organizations might have a bit of money in reserves.
“Yes, that is why we require them to provide financial statements,” said Hissong. “Every year is a tough decision on who to fund. We have limited money.”
As the funding discussion continued Tuesday night, Councilwoman Schuler reminded everyone how the city looked at all of the non-profits they were funding and chose to cut money across the board to each organization.
“I’ve asked myself, ‘why can’t they just do a 10 percent cut for everyone?’” she said. “To go from $10,000 to $9,000 to zero on the Boys and Girls Club just didn’t sit right. Youth services are on your priorities list.”
Kopp added the services provided by the Boys and Girls Club meet the needs of various priorities the board established.
“They provide youth services. They are fed, given life skills and kept off the streets,” he said. “These are all things addressed in your priorities.”
Schuler said she doesn’t want to see anyone take a hit on funding but still has an issue with no funds going toward the Evanston Youth Club.
“YAHA services a dozen or so youth. They do a great job and it’s important, but there are 270 in Boys and Girls Club,” she said.
While the Tri-Partite Board had to make cuts to funding due to budgetary restrictions, the Boys and Girls Club were denied funding requests in 2016-2017 and again in 2017-2018.
“… the board made a conscious effort. Some agencies can’t take a cut and still provide services,” said Hissong. “You may not agree with the decision, but they are sound.”
As the work session came to a close, Hissong said he will gladly come back each year and provide an update to the council.
“What I’ve learned and taken from tonight is there needs to be a voice of appreciation to the Tri-Partite Board,” Mayor Kent Williams said. “You’re dealing with half the money from a decade ago … you should be commended.”
City council members agreed with the Mayor’s statement and stated appreciation for the diligent work of the volunteer Human Services Tri-Partite Board.