August 28, 2011; Source: Miami Herald | There are always issues and controversies for nonprofits around Miami-Dade County, the latest being the Miami-Dade mayor’s plan for cutting funding to nonprofits. It’s hard to figure it out, but here’s what it seems to be:

According to the Miami Herald, Mayor Gimenez is grouping nonprofits into eleven “community-based organization” (CBO) categories. Groups in five of the categories—“Basic Needs,” “Children and Adults with Disabilities,” “Children, Youth and Families,” “Criminal Justice” and “Elder Needs”—will be fully funded. Groups in the other six categories—“Health,” “Immigrants/New Entrants,” “Special Needs,” “Chambers,” “Workforce Development” and “Other”—will be cut by 50 percent.

The first big objection posed by critics is that “organizations are being thrown into categories that don’t accurately capture that their mission includes helping families and seniors,” that is, they are excluded from categories that would get them fully funded. For example, We Care of South Dade, located in Florida City, will see its funding cut by 50 percent from $75,625 to $37,813 because it somehow got lumped into the “Other” category despite assisting 500 families annually with elder issues, childcare and foreclosure counseling. 

At least one CBO has gotten itself switched into a higher funding category. The executive director of the Naranja-based MUJER, which helps 700 families annually with domestic violence issues, wrote to the mayor about the “rather arbitrary groupings.” MUJER had been put into the “special needs” category which would have cut its Miami-Dade County funding from $149,643 to $74,822. MUJER’s ED contended that 100 percent of the organization’s clients are children and families affected by domestic violence, which should have qualified for full funding, and the mayor’s office ultimately agreed.

Overall though, Mayor Gimenez’s plan means that important nonprofit services for immigrants and in workforce development will be slashed in an environment where federal and state cuts are damaging nonprofit finances. Gimenez is in favor of having a third party at some point examine Miami-Dade’s nonprofit funding schemes. These broad categories for nonprofits, whose programs are often multifaceted, crossing simple thematic boundaries, might need to be reexamined—Rick Cohen