NASHUA — In light of recent criticism over the Review and Comment Commission and its funding recommendations for numerous human service agencies, legislation has been drafted to establish new procedures for the volunteer board.
A proposed ordinance has been created by Ward 3 Alderman Diane Sheehan that — if approved by the Board of Aldermen — will authorize the Review and Comment Commission, in conjunction with the aldermanic Human Affairs Committee, to establish and approve procedures to be used by the commission when reviewing funding requests from various agencies.
Aldermen recently criticized the commission for failing to provide necessary budget documentation, including minutes from meetings, and also questioned why certain agencies were recommended for cuts in funding while other agencies received proposed budget increases.
“I don’t think it is completely flawed,” Ward 1 Alderman Kathy Vitale said last week, explaining some of the process should be tweaked.
Alderman-at-Large David Deane said he is looking forward to having the entire process reviewed and addressed.
Some aldermen were torn on whether to keep funding at the levels recommended by the commission for three of the human service agencies, and after several adjustments to the figures, aldermen ultimately decided to restore funding to last year’s levels for the three groups — the Nashua Children’s Home, Nashua Adult Learning Center and Nashua Soup Kitchen.
This year, there were nearly $780,000 in funds requested by 28 agencies, but only a pool of $438,000 in city dollars and $82,000 in federal dollars was available for distribution.
“We had to cut 33 percent of the funds,” Commissioner Kevin Moriarty said previously, stressing the commission was not provided with any type of guidance or priority list from aldermen.
The new legislation is designed to fix some of that confusion, according to aldermen. In addition to establishing new procedures, the ordinance also requires that the commission and the Human Affairs Committee meet on an annual basis prior to the commission beginning its work for the budget season to review the procedures and guidelines to be used when reviewing funding requests.
“The current process is falling apart,” Alderman Lori Wilshire said last month in the midst of the funding controversy, maintaining that someone needs to be held accountable on how and why funds are or are not being distributed to nearly 30 agencies.
At the time, at least two commissioners said they would likely resign if aldermen amended the commission’s funding recommendations, which ultimately did occur when the final city budget was passed last week.
The chairman of the commission, Leslie Mendenhall, has not returned calls. The board’s next meeting is July 30.