A reduction in the amount allocated in the coming year’s town budget for human resources organizations has been brought into question. Next year’s projected budget includes $30,000 for such organizations, which is a decrease of $8,110 from last year.
Bourne Finance Committee chairwoman Mary Jane Mastrangelo has questioned the decrease. Ms. Mastrangelo said it is reflective of a trend by the Town of Bourne to reduce annually the town’s contribution to organizations such as Gosnold on Cape Cod, the Visiting Nurse Association and even the Bourne Food Pantry.
Ms. Mastrangelo raised the issue during a meeting of the finance committee and the Bourne Board of Selectmen held remotely on Monday, May 18. She recalled that the town used to allocate $6,000 a year for Gosnold operations. That has been cut by more than 50 percent to between $2,000 and $2,500. Similarly, the town used to appropriate $5,000 to the food pantry, but that figure has also been considerably reduced, she said.
“These are small amounts but they can have a big impact on the organizations and on the ability of people in our community to have these services,” she said.
Before being appointed to the finance committee, Ms. Mastrangelo served on the Bourne Human Services Committee. Being on that committee provided her with a solid understanding of the organizations that get funding from the town and how they operate, she said.
For instance, she said someone might seek treatment at a Gosnold facility, and that person’s admission might be covered, in part, by their health insurance. However, insurance does not cover all the costs for their care, she said. It can be a struggle for the company to provide enough beds for all the people who need one, she said.
“I know that budgets are tight. I would like to have us continue to try and fund some of these things in the future because I think it’s small dollars but it helps with a great need,” she said.
Ms. Mastrangelo called for a revitalization of the town’s Human Services Committee. She said that the group has been dormant in recent years but should be reactivated and become more involved in the budgeting process.
“When I was on the committee, we did have all those discussions about the allocation of the funding, so I think that’s important,” she said.
Bourne Town Administrator Anthony E. Schiavi agreed with Ms. Mastrangelo on the great service the organizations provide the community, noting that he gets regular reports from Gosnold. Those reports, he said, are “interesting and saddening at the same time,” because of how much work Gosnold does with Bourne residents.
Committee member Richard A. Lavoie asked how each organization uses the money it receives from the town. Mr. Lavoie concurred that they are all worthy institutions that do great work, and he fully supports them. He wanted to know, however, what is paid for with Bourne’s contribution.
Mr. Schiavi said he did not have exact specifics with him that night. However, he assured Mr. Lavoie and the rest of the committee that there are checks and balances in place for each organization that seeks town funding.
“They have to actually say, okay, here’s how many residents we helped, here’s how we helped them, so there is some data that flows back and forth to show what we’re actually getting for the budgeted amount that we’re giving these different organizations,” Mr. Schiavi said.
Selectman Peter J. Meier pointed out that Gosnold even helps with the children of people staying at one of its facilities. Mr. Meier noted that the organization has helped to calm the anxieties of parents and children alike throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
“We get a lot of bang for our dollar through Gosnold for what we give them every year,” he said. “We should be trying to help out these small agencies any way we can, when we can afford to do it.”