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Open Letter of Support for the County Executive Budget

April 28, 2017

 

Dear Frederick County Executive Gardner and Frederick County Council:

 

United Way of Frederick County (UWFC) supports County Executive Jan Gardner’s 2018 proposed budget. The proposed budget aligns with UWFC’s community-based goals in the areas of health, education and financial stability and moves Frederick County’s social priorities forward.

 

The recently released United Way ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) Report for Maryland focused particularly on the persisting gap between the cost of living and the federal poverty line. In Frederick County, 32% of households have an income level that falls below the community’s basic cost of living. ALICE data suggest that one-in-three households in Frederick County are financially unstable, and either in poverty, or on the precipice of poverty. Many of these households are unable to afford basic human necessities including adequate shelter, healthy food and educational support. Enclosed with this letter is the ALICE in Frederick County snapshot report. The full ALICE Report for Maryland is available at http://www.unitedwayfrederick.org/ALICE.

 

UWFC is especially encouraged by the proposed budget’s focus on education. Study after study illustrates that education is one of the most important platforms for poverty alleviation. A high quality public education is a proven mechanism to move families toward long-term financial stability. The 6% increase in funding for Frederick County Public Schools will significantly impact the lives of Frederick County’s most vulnerable youth and families. Furthermore, UWFC knows that affordable higher education is a critical tool to improve our community’s long-term outlook. The increase of nearly 4.5% in funding for Frederick Community College (FCC) will be used to advance FCC’s services to its students. An increase of 9% to Frederick County Public Libraries will increase public availability of free educational, literary and technology resources and programming to those who otherwise have limited access to such services.

 

A proposed $325,000 increase (net $199,083 after budgetary adjustments) in Community Partnership Grants is an enlightened approach to improve Frederick County by utilizing and bolstering partnerships with outstanding nonprofit organizations. Each of the programs proposed for funding are worthy investments in the wellbeing of the over 89,000 households in Frederick County. For example:

  • $77,155 to Heartly House will provide both improved facilities and programmatic support for the domestically abused.
  • $44,374 to Interfaith Housing Alliance will improve facilities and provide programmatic support for families trying to become financially stable through better housing and home ownership.
  • $89,323 to Mental Health Association will provide necessary building security improvements and critical crisis services to individuals in need of mental health care.
  • $35,000 to Student Homeless Initiative Partnership for its New Horizons Frederick program will provide study and work opportunities so that students can excel in their studies and/or skill training.

 

In addition, a deeper look at local municipalities in the ALICE Report for Maryland shows that 55% of Emmitsburg’s households struggle to afford basic human necessities. Funding for DePaul Dental at Seton Center is important to the welfare of that community. Additional long-term investment to improve the financial stability of households, as well as development of afterschool and summer programming for youth, will be needed in Emmitsburg in the future.

 

For these reasons, United Way of Frederick County respectfully requests Frederick County Council’s support of the proposed 2018 budget. Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

Ken Oldham

President & CEO