California News

Capitola City Council Awards $174K in Grants to Nonprofits

The money comes from the City’s general fund, which provides funds for public services, and a percent that comes from the Transient Occupancy Tax

Capitola distributed $174,000 to local nonprofits made up of money from its general fund and from tax revenue.

Capitola nonprofits will see incoming money from the city government.

Nonprofits submitted applications to the city’s Community Grant Program, which awards money to nonprofits each year. After some back and forth, the City decided to award nearly all the nonprofits the total amount of money they applied for, up to $10,000. The remaining money will be given to parks and recreation.

The money comes from the City’s general fund, which provides funds for public services, and a percent that comes from the Transient Occupancy Tax. Altogether, the City had $174,000 to distribute to local nonprofits: $125,000 from the general fund and $49,000 from tax. 

But the City Council was split over how much money to award. Even though the City had enough money to cover the requests from the organizations and still have nearly $20,0000 leftover, council members Jacques Bertrand and Margaux Keiser argued for awarding nonprofits a maximum 7% increase from what they were awarded last year.

Awarding what the organizations requested, the two council members argued at Thursday’s meeting, would set a high precedent for future awards.

“Where do we go from here in the long term, and in the years to come? Is it setting us up for this position of like, ‘oh, well, they had the money last year,’” said council member Keiser. 

But Capitola Mayor Yvette Brooks pushed back, saying it’s this kind of scarcity thinking that has contributed to the City’s diminishing the amount of money budgeted for the program each year.

“When I started at the city council in 2016, we were awarding $250,000. And now we’re only looking at $125,000, and we’re not even utilizing all those dollars and that really concerns me,” the mayor said. “The further we get away from utilizing those dollars, the further we get away from supporting our social services.”

Council member Kristen Petersen and Vice Mayor Sam Storey also supported giving the organizations the amount they requested, saying that the City has more than enough funds and should distribute the money out.

Betrand and Keiser also said that not many organizations applied for the grants, and they worried some organizations would be excluded from some of these funds.

“There’s a lot of people that were left out of our process, who in the past have made applications and used our donations to further the program,” Bertrand said. “So because they didn’t have that chance, for whatever reason, I don’t want to be able to not be able to give them some money in the future.”

This year, the city received applications from 22 agencies for 24 programs. Last year, the city received applications from around 30 organizations.

But since there would be leftover cash, said Brooks, it’s important to award the organizations that did come forward.

“We should be funding all of these requests, because we can,” she said. “They are fulfilling social needs, and we have the money.”

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