City approves more than $300,000 for community organizations

By Gus Bode

Leaders of all but one community organization that submitted funding applications left Tuesday’s City Council meeting one step closer to obtaining the money they requested from the city.

Members of the City Council approved staff recommendations of how to distribute $333,043 among 19 community not-for-profit organizations. Each of the 19 organizations were invited to submit applications to the city for money to spend during fiscal year 2010, said City Manager Allen Gill.

Mayor Brad Cole said the approved funding amounts are not guaranteed until fiscal year 2010, which begins in May.

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Gill said tax revenues, particularly the city sales tax, are not expected to raise as much money as they have in past years because of the economic downtown. He said the sluggish revenue streams limited social service organizations to request a city-funding increase of no more than 3 percent of fiscal year 2009, and non-social service groups could only receive the same amount of money.

Only the radio station WDBX did not receive the money it requested.

Jim Wall, vice chairman of the WDBX board of directors, said his organization requested half the cost of an $8,000 generator that could be used during power outages to transmit emergency broadcasts. The council denied the request after Wall said WDBX did not have the other $4,000 to purchase the generator.

The city has a generator to broadcast emergency information during natural disasters on radio station 1620 AM.

‘The city may be able to operate radio 1620, but the question is, ‘Can it reach anybody?” Wall said. He said the city’s transmitter does not broadcast a signal further than three blocks away from City Hall.

Cole said WDBX could request city funding if it found a way to raise the other $4,000.

Councilman Chris Wissmann, editor of the Nightlife newspaper and former WDBX board member, voted favorably to the radio station’s funding request because the region’s commercial radio stations do not have Carbondale offices, which could make getting information to out-of-town stations difficult during disasters.

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But Councilwoman Mary Pohlmann said she did not support WDBX’s generator because of limited city funds.

‘While the city emergency radio station does not have ongoing programming, it does provide the emergency service,’ she said.

The council also approved the second phase of a project to preserve Cedar Lake and Carbondale Reservoir through a partnership with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The first phase of the project resulted in a report, which revealed erosion, sedimentation and a need to protect the shoreline of Cedar Lake. The city’s agreement with the IEPA requires the city pay for half, or $181,000, of the project. The cost will be spread over fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

Reporter Brandy Oxford contributed to this report.

Daily Egyptian reporter Barton Lorimor can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 263.

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