Urbana council to examine social service funding

Urbana council to examine social service funding

URBANA — City council members are trying to decide how they should go about distributing $313,000 to local nonprofit organizations, and Mayor Laurel Prussing has proposed new ways that the city might deliver social services.

That discussion is one of several items on the council's agenda this week. It will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.

The city and Cunningham Township give about that much to local nonprofits each year. The total represents $204,000 from the city, $100,000 from the township and $9,000 from a federal grant.

Some of the biggest beneficiaries include Family Service of Champaign County, the Center for Women in Transition, Community Elements and Crisis Nursery, among others.

In the past, council members have hand-picked the agencies they fund and how much they contribute based on requests from the agencies and the services they provide.

Prussing and some council members have proposed tweaking the process. They say they should develop a method for evaluating the agencies' performance with the funds given.

Prussing has proposed keeping funding from the city and township at current levels, and she hopes Champaign will contribute a proportional amount.

According to a memo Prussing wrote to council members, Urbana city officials have asked Champaign for a list of what it currently funds and "hope to find a way that they can help some of the agencies we now support." Prussing's longstanding argument is that the social services Urbana taxpayers are subsidizing often cross city boundaries.

"I would hope Champaign would fund in proportion to its population, which is roughly twice that of Urbana," Prussing wrote in her memo. "However, if the ratio is 1.5 to 1 or even 1 to 1, it would be a step in the right direction."

Champaign does not contribute directly to local nonprofits, but it does fund city programs that target certain community needs, such as housing and "urban renewal."

Prussing also hopes her city can encourage early childhood education. She said 150 to 200 mostly low-income children in Urbana who are eligible for early childhood education are on a waiting list for either school programs or Head Start.

"Helping all these children is beyond the financial ability of the city alone, and we need to define some specific ways we can help and then a program to get support from other entities in Urbana," she wrote. "Numerous studies show that investment in very young children is the best way to create a better community for everyone."

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Danno wrote on February 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Prussing and some council members have proposed tweaking the process. They say they should develop a method for evaluating the agencies' performance with the funds given.

So, ther're tweaking a process that has no methodology? What the...? This is simpleton stuff. Go to the U of I and, propose to the administrators a project involving a Senior Design course inclusive of dual curriculum Engineering/Business majors; before outsoursing an out of state consulting firm for, easily, a five-six figure cost.

Additionally, Prussing should focus on bike paths and roundabouts; not what Champaign does with their monies.

Kinda' like Mayor Bloomberg interjecting his unsolited opinions about what Crook county should do with the vacant 2nd district ( J.J. Junior). Ugh...

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I have lived in the C-U area for over 40 years with 27 of those in Urbana.  I never have understood why the concept of "twin cities" continues.  One street divdes them.  Their existence requires two police departments, two fire departments, two park districts...; two of everything including city administrators, and mayors.  During tough economic times with state, and federal monies diminishing; why have two cities that are in reality to the population one city?  Consolidate; and call it Champaign-Urbana, Shampoobannana, or Busey-Carle.  Why two cities with one street dividing them?

Danno wrote on February 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Quite a good point; friends and I have pondered that for decades. Across the nation there's Raleigh/Durham, Bloomington/Normal, Dallas/Ft. Worth situations, to name a few. Perhaps, the taxing bodies wish their own dominion. I wouldn't want to be taxed per Urbana political fiats as, surely they for Champaign's.

I guess each 'culture' was already defined by the time we showed up on the scene. Kinda' hard to change a culture. One likes deep red fire trucks, the other, more metallic. One embraces trivial matters, the other, trivial+1.

It would seem cost beneficial. Hey! Maybe, we could equally distribute the crime rates amongst our two cities! Naw, bad idea. Tax rates? Ummm...gee, guess I gotta look up the meaning of 'conundrum'.

I would still like a Cartel Taco and, I'll wear my red socks, promise! ;)

sweet caroline wrote on February 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm

That's a hoot, Sid!  Shampoobanana....I love it!!!

I also agree with your point.

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I have to admit to using an old nickname for the twin cities.  I heard it back in the 70's in Ruby Gulch, or Panama Red's.  It may go back before that time.   It's origin, or author would make a great local trivia question.

Danno wrote on February 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Wow, time warp. I wasn't quite yet old enough to even pass as an an underage drinker at the Gulch; though, pals and I played pinball at the Apple Duck Arcade across the street. Scotty (leather) owned?/managed? it and, Andy Dallas had the backroom selling his wares and doing magical/illusion tricks occaisionally.

Scotty, beam me up further, my friend. I wanna say 'hi' to James Wilson.

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Urbana had it's small share of good bars also.  There was the Embassy, Rose Bowl Tavern, and Bunny's.  The Rose Bowl, and Bunny's are still there.  Green street held my attention back then though.  Witt's End was on the Champaign side of Wright street.  Garcia's Pizza had a place south on Wright.  The best carmarel popcorn shop ever was on Sixth street with good pool tables at the Deluxe on Green street.  Part of my job took me to Green street regularly.  Seems like more apartment buildings, and less bars now though.

CharacterCounts wrote on February 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I am amazed and astounded with Mayor Prussing.  She states  "hope to find a way that they can help some of the agencies we now support." "Prussing's longstanding argument is that the social services Urbana taxpayers are subsidizing often cross city boundaries."


"I would hope Champaign would fund in proportion to its population, which is roughly twice that of Urbana," Prussing wrote in her memo. "However, if the ratio is 1.5 to 1 or even 1 to 1, it would be a step in the right direction."


Mayor Prussing must have very short memory and hopes that the Champaign mayor and council also have short memories.  She was the leader that stopped Urbana from financially supporting the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  She believes Urbana received no benefit from the convention and visitors bureau.  As was pointed out to her at the time, there is not a large curtin at the boundaries of the two cities.  Of course Urbana received and currently receives tremendous benefit when large groups are recruited to visit the University of Illinois and Champaign-Urbana.


Amazing how she wants it only one way, the way to benefit Urbana only.


When Urbana pays it's share of back fees for all the work and money spent by the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau that have benefited Urbana, then Champaign should consider and discuss providing financial support to the social service agencies Urbana currently supports.


Mayor Prussing is the one who stopped the cooperation between the cities, so it is amazing that now she wants Champaign to cooperate with her on a matter that she believes benefits Champaign.