June 19, 2010; Source: Hollister Free Lance | It must be a trend in small cities in California—here is a report about the small community of Hollister in San Benito County contemplating ending all local government support (paid for by local tax revenues) for nonprofit services. Hollister typically provides all of $47,000 to a small number of service providers in town—a senior citizen ombudsman program, Senior Legal Services, the Seniors Council, a suicide prevention program, Emmaus House and the Hollister Youth Alliance.

To some members of the City Council, it is a question of laying off police officers versus funding nonprofit services. Some suggest freezing or even reducing funding for nonprofits, but not for eliminating them entirely. The nonprofits argue that they are providing critically important public services, the fact that they are delivered by nonprofits making them no less important than services and functions delivered by government employees.

If the senior ombudsman and the suicide prevention programs were functions of city government instead of nonprofit deliverers, would Hollister’s council members look at them differently? Expect this nonprofit/government funding debate to reappear in small communities around the nation. The numbers may not be big in the overall scheme of government funding for nonprofits, but the results count in terms of reduced services by small nonprofit in communities typically off the radar screens of federal agencies and national nonprofits.— Rick Cohen