WILLIAMSBURG – The City of Williamsburg City Council held its monthly business meeting on March 7 during which council members listened to presentations on funding requests and recommendations for fiscal year 2023 (FY23).
Two presentations were on the agenda, the first presented by the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission President Patricia Rublein.
“Over the past year, the community has enjoyed many different types of entertainment,” Rublein said of how the arts commission has adapted during the pandemic. “We had a community opera outside, we had an opera in a parking lot, and art galleries were built outside, and as we know, virtual performances became the norm.”
Rublein says the Arts Commission has also sponsored public forums designed to provide technical assistance to its beneficiaries. These forums have been offered in the spring and fall, with the most recent taking place over the past October called, “Shaking the Money Tree: Grants how to Get ‘Em.”
“It provided very practical guidance and gave specific funding sources to groups that otherwise wouldn’t know how to seek them out,” Rublein said in his presentation to Williamsburg City Council.
Regarding commission funding, Rublein said the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission has 25 current grantees and applications for next year have grown to 32.
“It’s exciting to see new organizations on this list. Recognizing the good that the Arts Commission can do in our area,” said Board Member Caleb T. Rogers. “I also know a lot of them and it would be nice for some of them to come back to a more normal place. Like an opera not in a parking lot. I congratulate you all for being able to cross this strange landscape that we have been going through for the last few years anyway.
The organizations that requested funding for FY23 are:
The Arts Commission receives equal funding from the City of Williamsburg and James City County. Commission funding includes a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts for each community.
The second presentation focused on funding requests from external agencies for FY23.
the Social Services Advisory Council reviews grant applications from partner agencies to help the Williamsburg City Council support social service programs to benefit residents. For FY23, fifteen organizations were assessed for one grant.
Director of Human Services DeAnna Valentine and Human Services Advisory Board Chair John Morgan presented the FY23 grant applications in addition to the board’s funding recommendations.
During her part of the presentation, Valentine mentioned that the Council framed its recommendations based on five key considerations:
- Does the agency provide necessary and direct services to city residents?
- Are the services not duplicative and profitable for city residents?
- Are the services provided by the partner agency timely, accessible and affordable without any resident being turned away due to inability to pay?
- Does the agency work closely and network with city social service staff and other agencies so as not to cause duplication or fragmentation of services?
- Is the amount of funding the city provides commensurate with the amount of neighboring localities, relative to the percentage of citizens served by the city and other localities?
“We look closely at the number of city residents served by each program. It was a key part of this year’s recommendations,” Valentine said.
During her part of the presentation, Morgan said, “It has been almost exactly two years since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all of our lives and during that time there has been an increased need for residents locals to receive assistance with necessary housing, food and security, mental health counselling, transportation and services for the elderly.
Currently, fourteen organizations, including the new Vacant Street Youth and Family Services, are seeking funding for FY23.
Eight of the 14 requests requested increased funding for FY23.
“While the Board realizes that it has been several years since some agencies have received a funding increase, it also understands that current budget constraints will not support the overall increase in funding,” said Morgan said. “The current recommendation is increased funding for Hospice House, Literacy for Life, The Arc for Greater Williamsburg, Williamsburg House of Mercy and Old Towne Medical and Dental Center. The total increase in funding for these organizations is $11,789.
The board also recommended that two organizations, Advancing Community Excellence and Peninsula Agency on Aging, receive minimal increases to round up the budget figures. The total funding increase for these two organizations is $220.
Organizations applying for FY23 funding include:
Collectively, the amount requested is approximately $490,000 in funding. The recommended funding amount is $477,159, which is an increase of $10,009 from last year’s funding recommendation.
“We are all so grateful for the hard work that goes into this deliberation, especially when it comes to people’s lives,” said Mayor Douglas G. Pons. “We all want to do what we can to help people and you, you and the committee obviously have a stake, like everyone else in the community, in making sure that we help those who need it most. Through these efforts, hopefully, we will put money in the right hands that will ultimately reach the people who need help.
The list of requests in addition to all dollar amounts requested for funding can be found on the Agenda for City Council business meetings.
The next regular meeting of the City of Williamsburg City Council will be held March 10 at Stryker Center at 2 o’clock in the afternoon