On November 28th, the Leon County Commission held a workshop related to the County’s funding of human services through the Community Services Partnership (CHSP) and tabled the recommendation that would shift certain funding responsibilities to the Children’s Services Council (CSC).
The agenda for the workshop recommended authorizing the County Administrator to amend the CHSP Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Tallahassee to realign current human service categories. It proposed that children and family services be removed from the CHSP categories all-together, making the children and family services primarily funded by the CSC. It also proposed that the funding currently going towards children and family services would be directed towards emergency homeless shelters.
Several commissioners noted their concern with CHSP and the CSC having two different processes for their funding.
Commissioner Rick Minor explained that currently the CSC does not provide supplemental funding to organizations. He continued, saying there is approximately 34 programs that may have trouble being funded by the CSC due to current CSC guidelines. Additionally, Minor explained that while he is not against the item, he would like for more conversations to be had before any decision is made.
Leon County Commissioner O’Keefe noted that “Florida Statute 125.901(8) regarding CSC and our Ordinance from 2018 specifically says that CSC funds shall support improvements, not be used as substitute for existing resources.” O’Keefe pointed to an example of the “Florida lottery education game”, stating, “The voters voted in this tax to say we want new money for children and family and then it goes in and the County is saying well we’re going to stop funding $400,000 of it because the CSC can, and to me that looks like replacing. Is that allowed?”
The County Attorney replied saying that the CSC attorney has reviewed the specific provision in the Florida Statute and has determined there would be no violation of Florida Law. Additionally, O’Keefe claimed the recommendation “sends the wrong message” and stated, “We ask the voters to add a sales tax for more and we start chipping away and replacing elsewhere, which is how I see this.”
Commissioner Brian Welch said he shared the same concern with Commissioner Minor and noted they had received emails from community human service partners who voiced their concern over the proposed realignment. Welch claimed there are too many unanswered questions to move forward with the realignment, comparing the proposal to launching a boat when you don’t know where the holes are. Additionally, Welch stated, “I think it’s crucial if we’re going to be re-designing a community human service partnership, that we have input from our human service partners.”
Commissioner Proctor made a motion to table the MOU amendment, have staff bring back more information and to direct staff to reach out the non-profits currently being funded by the CHSP to give them an opportunity to respond in writing on the issue. The motion passed unanimously.
During the workshop, the Commission unanimously approved staff recommendation to create a subcategory in the Community Human Services Partnership Homeless Services Category for the line-item funding of emergency homeless shelters services.
The Commission unanimously approved staff recommendation establishing an annual agency line-item funding to 2-1-1 Big Bend for the 24-hour Helpline and Lyft Transportation Program, and changed the funding for this item to $75,000 instead of $60,000 to allow the program to accommodate more rides.
Finally, the Commission unanimously approved staff recommendation to direct staff to evaluate the feasibility of a Community Information Exchange in partnership with the 2-1-1 Big Bend, the City of Tallahassee, Children Services Council of Leon County, United Way of the Big Bend and other local stakeholders.