Pomona council grants center funds

Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

POMONA – City Council members this week approved allocating $37,000 to the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center.

Council members voted unanimously to allocate the funds, which will help the center continue operating until the end of June.

Nine speakers went before the council on Monday and briefly spoke about the center and how it serves Pomona residents and day laborers.

The center, found on Mission Boulevard just east of the 71 Freeway, is often referred to as the Pomona Day Labor Center and for about 15 years has helped workers obtain short-term and long-term jobs. The center has assisted workers negotiate fair wages in addition to helping them in other areas such as learn English and improving their jobs skills.

Councilman Steve Atchley said the funding will help the center in the short term. “Maybe we bought a little time,” he said.

The center has made great progress finding other revenue sources that have allowed it to reduce its reliance on city funding, Atchley said. It’s difficult to say if the city will be able to help the center in the future, he said.

The city must close a $2.5 million gap in the 2012-13 fiscal year budget and prepare for 2013-14, which is expected to be another financially difficult fiscal year, Atchley said.

To provide some assistance to the center, the city will need an increase in revenue, one time funds or some help from the state, he said. However, Atchley said he’s not counting on the state to provide cities with assistance.

For about 13 years, the city has provided financial assistance to the center, according to a city staff report. The last eight years of funding came from the city’s Redevelopment Agency. The last time the Redevelopment Agency provided financial assistance to the center was for the 2010-11 fiscal year when $123,930 was allocated, according to the city staff report.

Funds were not allocated for the 2011-12 fiscal year as a result of the passage of legislation approving the dismantling of the state’s redevelopment agencies, which left the future of the city’s agency unclear.

The center has survived with the use of grants, reserves and in-kind services and by scaling back some of its hours of operation.

The funds the City Council allocated for the center came from the General Fund’s General Services Division budget.

That budget contains funds for general government expenses such as dues for government associations, for some contract services and for contingencies, said Mark Gluba, assistant to the city manager.

Some expenses in that budget area “did not come to fruition,” said Raymond Fong, the city’s redevelopment director.

City administrators proposed using some of those funds for the center.

How to fund the center for the 2012-2013 fiscal year will be a matter to be addressed as part of the budget development process, Fong said.

The center will need at least $75,000 from the city to operate the coming year and efforts will made assist with that sum, he said.

However, “we’re not guaranteeing $75,000,” Fong said.

The $75,000 is the minimum needed to keep the center running, said Suzanne Foster, the center’s executive director. To continue offering programs and services the center has offered it must raise $150,000 to $200,000, she said.

Finding that money will not be easy.

“A lot of foundations are not accepting unsolicited proposals,” Foster said. Some groups and foundations are only funding groups they’ve funded before or groups they’ve invited to apply for grants, she said.

So the search for funding continues, including identifying grant opportunities that fit with the work the center carries out and the needs of the workers.Reach Monica via email or call her at 909-483-9336.

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