Murrieta council gives grant money to 7 local nonprofits

Murrieta City Council voted during its Oct. 17 meeting to allocate grant money to seven nonprofit organizations in the area.

The city had $43,000 to give to local organizations—despite receiving requests totaling $126,000 from 11 separate organizations.

“This is the hardest thing that your council gets to do,” Murrieta Mayor Rick Gibbs said during the meeting. “All those other things you see on the agenda, there’s a great deal of objectivity to those. This is a little more subjective.”

Further complicating matters, county regulations stipulate that the minimum amount a city can allocate to any organization is $5,000, said Izzy Murguia, a management analyst for the city, leaving the city with no way to fund every organization that asked for funding.

“There is no right answer here, because no matter what we do, somebody who should have been funded, won’t be funded,” Gibbs said.

The city receives the Community Development Block Grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development via the Riverside County Economic Development Agency.

About $289,000 was given to the city to allocate for 2018-2019, but only 15 percent can be given to community development programs, leaving $43,000 amount for the city to give to local organizations.

The rest of the money went to a pedestrian safety program, Murguia said.

Federal rules require that funds must go to organizations that benefit individuals with low to moderate incomes, aid in prevention or elimination of blight and meet community development needs with a particular urgency.

The city council identified food pantries, women’s programs, domestic violence prevention programs and children and youth development programs as four further priorities for allocation, given the limitation of funds, Murguia said.

Assistance League of Temecula Valley, Oak Grove Center, Rose Again Foundation and Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Riverside County were all children’s organizations that received funds.

Breast cancer resource center Michelle’s Place, domestic violence prevention organization Safe Alternatives for Everyone and the Community Food Pantry of Murrieta also received funding.

The council voted to give $13,000 to the St. Martha’s Catholic Church-operated community food pantry, and $5,000 to the rest of the organizations—despite an attempt by Councilman Kelly Seyarto to increase funding for the pantry, which received $15,000 last year.

“St. Martha’s, I can’t imagine giving them less than what we’ve given in the past, because they’re only getting busier,” he said.

However, Seyarto acquiescing to other councilmembers’ proposals, the council voted 5-0 for their funding plan.

“No matter what decision I make, someone’s not going to like the decision I make,” said councilman Randon Lane. “Unfortunately for tonight, the decision, everybody in the room is not going to like, because you’re either not going to get funded or you’re not going to get enough money for what you’re requesting.”

Seyarto said when he first joined the city council in 1997, the city had about $42,000 of CDBG funds to give out.

“We were a community of 39,000 people,” he said. “Today, we’re triple that size, and we’re still splitting (almost the same amount).”

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