3 agencies to receive city of Apache Junction human services funding

An agency providing food, another offering educational strategies for children and a third presenting intervention programs for families affected by domestic abuse will receive health and human services funding by the city of Apache Junction.

The city council recently voted 6-1 in a consent agenda to approve contracts for 2018-19 that include giving $33,000 to Apache Junction Food Bank, $29,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley (Superstition Mountain Branch) and $16,000 to the Community Alliance Against Family Abuse, all based in Apache Junction.

United Way of Pinal County, which had sought $2,000, dropped its request for funding, officials said.

Voting yes were Mayor Jeff Serdy, Vice Mayor Chip Wilson and council members Gail Evans, Christa Rizzi, Dave Waldron and Robin Barker. Voting no was Councilman Jeff Struble.

Apache Junction City Councilman Jeff Struble at a recent council meeting. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

“I strongly do not feel that government at any level should be funding nonprofits of any kind,” Councilman Struble said in an interview after the meeting.

“I personally provide funding to all four of the entities that had contracts before us tonight, so I am not against nonprofits. In fact, I operate a nonprofit,” he said of The Rhino Recreation Center.

He commends volunteer members of the Apache Junction Health and Human Services Commission who interviewed agencies and made the funding recommendation to the city council.

“They did exactly what they were supposed to do based on the requirements of the commission and they did their job,” he said.

The Apache Junction Health and Human Services Commission had recommended that $80,000 be awarded, including $2,000 for United Way of Pinal County.

According to a city of Apache Junction document, the commission suggested the following funding:

  • $2,000 to United Way of Pinal County to be used for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program, which promotes early childhood literacy and improves educational opportunities for children who are city of Apache Junction residents ages 0-5 by providing a book on a monthly basis to enrolled, qualified children.
  • $33,000 for the food bank to be used to provide emergency food for city of Apache Junction residents and maintenance of a refrigerator truck, three freezers and one walk-in cooler.
  • $29,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley (Superstition Mountain Branch) to be used for the academic success programs, Power Hour/Project Learn and educational enhancement programs, “Healthy Habits” and teen programs for city of Apache Junction residents.
  • $16,000 to Community Alliance Against Family Abuse to be used for intervention programs for families affected by domestic abuse to include empowerment sessions, legal advocacy services and general advocacy services for city of Apache Junction residents.

Apache Junction City Councilwoman Robin Barker at a recent council meeting. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

Councilwoman Barker made the motion at the council meeting to approve the funding, including that “the fiscal year 2018-19 contract with United Way of Pinal County be declined, as requested by their agency representative, with the proposed $2,000 in human services funding be retained in the city General Fund.”

Prior to his vote, Councilman Struble read the city’s vision statement to his fellow council members and said he would be voting against the funding.

“Last month when we had the first public hearing for the health and human services contracts that are in this consent agenda, I made a proposal to not fund those contracts and instead put the $80,000 into city services, mostly into public safety, but equipment for the police department and to renovations to some rooms, and also to provide some money to the parks and recreation,” he said.

“After I made that proposal, there were statements made that I … didn’t think that the health and human services committee did their job. That’s so far from the truth because I did commend them for the … work that they did to approve of and recommend to the city council the contracts based on what they’re supposed to do as members of the committee,” Councilman Struble said.

Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy at a recent council meeting. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

Mayor Serdy asked that Councilman Struble wrap up his comments.

“I don’t want a precedent set where we are going to read the vision statement before every vote. I think you’re trying to explain your vote,” Mayor Serdy said.

“I don’t have anything against what our committee did. I personally fund those nonprofits and I hope that the citizens of the community will step forward and fund those,” Councilman Struble said.

“Being that said, since I don’t believe in it, I’m going to vote no on the consent agenda,” he said.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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