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La Jolla nonprofits could feel effects of budget cuts

BY JONATHAN HORN and DAVE SCHWAB

Staff Writers

In a continuing effort to battle losses in tax revenue and state funding, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on March 23 to cut $10 million of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program’s budget starting in July.

The move stands to affect several La Jolla nonprofits whose representatives said they would be hard-pressed to replace funds should they be cut.

Starting July 1, each of the five supervisors will be able to divide only $1 million in donations among the nonprofits in their districts. In previous years, each had $2 million to divvy out.

“We anticipate further cuts to state-mandated county programs,” Chairwoman Pam Slater-Price said. “Coupled with severe losses in sales and property tax, it was prudent to move money into the county general fund to help make it through the shortfall.”

The recession has already hindered the fundraising ability of nonprofit organizations, which rely largely on grants and private donations to pay for operations.

Ann Kerr Bach, who chairs the La Jolla Christmas Parade Committee, which received $7,5000 last year, said, “It’s a huge impact, a significant chunk.”

She said that money is used for staples in staging the year-end event. “We have to pay the city of San Diego $5,000 for police service,” she noted, adding there are numerous other expenses, everything from renting port-a-potties to paying for street cleanup.

Darcy Ashley, past La Jolla Town Council president, said cutting the county’s contribution would “put more pressure on the fundraising committee to come up with local resources.”

For the La Jolla Motor Car Classic presented by La Jolla Historical Society, a funding cut “in itself, is not a deal-breaker for us,” said Trip Bennett, co-chair of the event, which seeks $25,000 for next year. “But it would have a negative impact on our budget. It certainly would make it (funding) a much bigger hill to climb.”

Shirleymae Davis, president of La Jolla Concerts By The Sea, a nonprofit corporation that’s staged the free summer concert series for 26 years, said the $4,800 the group received last year “represents two concerts.” She added they are struggling to get the concert series funded and is already scaling back, from 11 to nine, the number of concerts planned this year.

The cuts also stand to affect the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, said Anne Farrell, who explained that the $25,000 grant is a really important funding source for one-time projects that are a benefit to the community.

“The support through the County’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund was an important factor in our ability to present these exhibitions and offer the public free educational programs,” she said. “The Fund is so critical ... Its loss would be devastating to the nonprofit community in San Diego.”

John Weil, Slater-Price’s chief of staff, said the decision on which nonprofit programs are to be cut, and how much, will not be made until June.

Cuts in the wind?

The following are the amounts La Jolla nonprofits received from the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program last year and what they were used for:
  • Concerts by the Sea, $4,800 for summer series
  • Historical Society, $15,000 for Motor Car Classic
  • Town Council Foundation, $7,500 for Christmas Parade
  • Mainly Mozart, Inc. $35,000 for annual concert at Neurosciences Institute
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, $25,000 for various programs