Janesville71.6°

RSVP modifies budget to reflect cuts

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
July 1, 2011
— Budget cuts are not new to the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program of Rock County.

“We’ve been experiencing cuts in local funding since 2008,” said Robert Harlow, executive director.


That’s why RSVP leaders took a proactive stance and relocated its office about a year ago to cut its occupancy costs, including rent and utilities, in half.


“That helped in keeping the bottom line for the remainder of the year and gave us a bit of cushion for future cuts,” Harlow said. “We actually spent less than what we brought in, which positioned us pretty well for 2011.”


But effective today, there will be a 20-percent reduction in federal funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service.


The cuts are part of the federal government’s response to the national deficit, Harlow said, and they have led to a $10,000 revision to the local RSVP group’s 2011 budget.


Harlow notes that supplies, equipment and equipment maintenance and repair have been cut. Programs and staff were not affected, but staff no longer will receive mileage reimbursement. Also, staff training and conferences have been discontinued for the rest of this year, he said.


“The combination of all those cuts made up that $10,000 loss,” Harlow said.


Unfortunately for RSVP, more financial losses are expected for 2012.


At the federal level, the House of Representatives has proposed eliminating the CNCS. This would mean the loss of all funding from the corporation. The Senate is likely to oppose such a move, but additional budget cuts could still happen.


Because RSVP doesn’t have other areas to cut costs in, staffing could be affected in 2012.


“We should know sometime this fall and after Oct. 1 when the federal budget is set,” Harlow said.


In a worst-case scenario, Harlow said the CNCS would be eliminated—resulting in a $100,000 loss to RSVP.


“That’s really going to put us in a tailspin, and the local community isn’t going to be able to make that up,” Harlow said. “County and United Ways may be able to help us as well as various foundations and philanthropic groups, but not at that level. Changes would have to be made in the way we do what we do.”


The best-case scenario, Harlow said, would involve politicians realizing the CNCS shouldn’t be cut because of the gain the government gets in return for its investment in the program. The need for RSVP’s 800 volunteers who contribute a value of $2 million service in Rock County annually is always there, and even more so now with the sluggish economy and cuts being made to state and federal programs, he said.


“The value of those volunteers has probably never been more important than it has been the last couple years and years to come,” Harlow said. “Our presence in the schools, various nonprofit and services organizations is helpful in fulfilling their mission with fewer resources.


“Day-to-day you don’t really feel it, but cumulatively, the impact of the volunteer is substantial over the year,” he said.



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