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Pacific looks to fill funding gaps at senior and youth centers
With the recent loss of Pacific Partnerships' nonprofit status, the City's new administration looks to form its own 501(c) organization to fill gaps in funding for Pacific's Parks Board and for its youth and senior programs.
For nearly three years, Pacific Partnerships – a community volunteer organization that lost its nonprofit standing in August – acted as the point organization for grants and banking for the Pacific Senior and Youth Center and for the Pacific Parks Board.
"Basically, they were where the grants flowed through," Mayor Leanne Guier said. "They facilitated all the grants. Once upon a time, the senior center had a committee that did all that over there."
But in 2010, after a rift developed between the City and members of the Pacific-Algona Community Center Nonprofit Board over alleged theft of kitchen utensils, the board moved its permanent home to neighboring Algona.
The loss left a void in the funding mechanism for the City's senior and youth center, making it impossible for the organizations to apply for grants, or to offer tax deductions for donations.
"Partnerships stepped in and filled that void," Guier said.
According to Ann Smith, volunteer and spokesperson for Pacific Partnerships – which organizes many of the town's community events, including Pacific Days – her organization took over banking for the groups and for the Pacific Parks Board. It also helped oversee the application and distribution of several grants, including funding for the senior center's Stone Soup Monday free lunch.
In August, however, Pacific Partnerships received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service informing the organization that accounting and reporting errors over the past three years had cost it its nonprofit status, Smith said.
"I have a CPA working on that, and we're going through banking information through here to get everything the IRS needs," she said. "I feel it's important that our citizens know that we haven't just let it slide, that we're actively looking to reinstate our status, and to let them know where we are in the process."
Smith added that she expects the group's accountant to be finishing filing the information with the IRS within a couple weeks and for reinstatement to follow soon after.
In the meantime, the senior and youth center and the parks board are unable to apply for grants and cannot grant tax write-offs for donations, which could cut into food commodities received from the federal government and aid received from organizations like World Vision.
Despite the likely reinstatement of Pacific Partnerships' nonprofit status, Guier said she feels the time is right for the City to step up and form a nonprofit to help oversee donations.
"It really should have been done sooner," she said. "We should have formed another 501c3 to oversee the senior and youth centers to ensure those grants. With everything that was going on, though, it kind of fell through the gaps and never got looked at. It really isn't Partnerships' job to facilitate that. That's not what their role in the city is.
"With this happening, I feel that this forces us to move on something the City should have done a long time ago," she added.
Guier said she has asked the City's Human Services Committee to form a board with a councilmember, a pair of city staff members and four citizens that will form a new nonprofit to keep grants and donations flowing.
"I've asked the committee to start working and moving forward on that," she said. "That way this organization can take care of all the grants that normally go toward nonprofits to help our citizens," Guier said. "This just forced our hand at doing something that should have been done a long time ago. We can't leave it on the back burner now."
Despite the loss of funding for some programs, Guier said most of the programs, including the daily lunches, will continue.
Guier emphasized that Pacific Partnerships is not to blame for the loss of funding.
"Partnerships have done so much for the city. Their people have done so much for the city," she said. "I don't want to paint them in a negative way. There has been concern and a lot of disgruntled feelings about it. But they should have never been put in the position to facilitate our grants. Thank heaven they did though."