Agencies must meet criteria  for funding

PETERBOROUGH — In recent years, as sources for funding from grants or the federal or state governments have dried up, a number of local social service agencies have turned to the town for help.

“We’ve gotten a lot more substantial requests for funding than we ever had before and we’ve never had guidelines,” said Nicole MacStay, the town’s human services director, at a Select Board meeting on Tuesday.

To remedy that MacStay proposed, and the Select Board approved, a set of guidelines for town appropriations to social service agencies.

Under state law, town funds can’t be given to a private organization unless the organization takes on an obligation that would benefit the town. So under the guidelines, an agency will have to meet five criteria: It must serve a core group of Peterborough residents; it must provide a service that the town would otherwise need to provide directly or through municipal welfare; the service must directly or indirectly reduce town expenditures; the agency must clearly demonstrate financial need; the services provided by the agency must “demonstrably enhance the quality of life in the Peterborough community.”

MacStay has created a request form, which must be submitted to the town by Dec. 6 for consideration in the next year’s budget. Town staff will determine if the request meets the criteria. If it does, the request will be included in the proposed budget that is presented to the Select Board. The Select Board will make the final decision on whether to include the funding in the final budget that goes before voters.

In the description of the process that she provided to the Select Board, MacStay noted that any agency whose funding request is denied by the Select Board has the option of placing a petition article on the Town Meeting warrant. That would require the signatures of 25 registered Peterborough voters.

MacStay said town officials gave out about $15,000 to various organizations last year.

“We tried to sprinkle it around,” she said.

Select Board member Liz Thomas said the request for funding process is a good idea.

“It takes the burden off of you,” Thomas told MacStay.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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