Split vote this year on all Monroe County social services grant awards

Community service grants to 38 organizations totaling $160,830 were approved by Monroe County councilors at their Tuesday evening work session.

The community service grants, which have been made annually since 2008, are named after a former county councilor, the late Sophia Travis.

In past years, councilor Marty Hawk has voted against the awards to organizations that have any connection to the provision of abortion services. This year she voted against all of the awards, citing the pressing needs of county employees for higher compensation.

This year’s total figure is about 6.5 percent more than last year’s $151,000. Since 2008, about $1.83 million has been awarded to various social service agencies.

County councilor Cheryl Munson is chair of the five-person committee that makes recommendations on the grant awards. Also serving on the committee this year were Munson’s colleagues Peter Iversen and Jennifer Crossley, as well as two community members, Jean Capler and Hattie Johnson.

At Tuesday’s work session, Capler and Johnson alternated reading aloud the list of this year’s awards.

By dollar amount this year, the top five awards went to: Hoosier Hills Food Bank ($8,720); New Hope for Families ($8,650); Community Kitchen ($8,500); 4H Monroe County ($6,720); and Beacon Inc. ($6,600).

A complete table of this year’s awards, and the projects they will fund, is included below.

On Tuesday, the county council set aside the awards to Planned Parenthood ($5,320) and All Options All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center ($3,800) for a separate vote. That’s something the council typically does—in deference to county councilor Marty Hawk, who does not support awards to any organization that has any connection to providing abortion services.

Separating the awards allows Hawk to vote against the awards to Planned Parenthood and All-Options, without voting against the other awards.

As she has in the past, Hawk voted no on those two awards. But this year she also cast her vote against all the other awards. That made for a pair of 6–1 votes on the seven-member council.

Hawk’s opposition included a voting no on an additional award that was separated out this year—to Writing for Change ($930). That one got separate consideration, because county councilor Geoff McKim’s wife is a paid instructor for the program. The separation allowed McKim to abstain on that vote.

During a recess to the work session, The B Square asked Hawk why she’d voted against all the Sophia Travis awards this year.

Hawk based her opposition on the fact that the county council had just heard from the public mic several county employees who told councilors that they need the 2024 budget to reflect a significant pay raise.

That’s a conversation the county council started on Tuesday night, without making any decisions. Based on Tuesday’s deliberations it sounds like the council will land somewhere around the 6-percent inflation rate that can be measured in the Midwest region between December 2022 and December 2021.

Monroe County commissioners have recommended an 8.5-percent cost-of-living increase for 2024.

Based on the numbers discussed on Tuesday, if the roughly $160,000 that is allocated to Sophia Travis grants were instead put towards raises for county employees, that would make for an extra half percentage point  salary raise for county employees.

Hawk said that the reasons county employees had given in support of a raise were basically so that they could “take care of themselves.” Hawk added, “And it just seems to me, after hearing their pleas, we would have to think very hard before we take public dollars and put them someplace else.”

The B Square will report separately on the county council’s deliberations on the prospects for county employee raises in the 2024 budget.

In 2013, the county’s social services grant program was renamed in honor of Sophia Travis, who served on the county council from 2004 to 2008. She worked as a councilor to “assure the applications for the limited funds available for support would be considered in a fair, even-handed and transparent process,” according to the renaming resolution.

2023 Sophia Travis awards sorted by amount
Agency Program Amount
Hoosier Hills Food Bank Food Purchase $8,720
New Hope for Families New Help for Families $8,650
Community Kitchen food purchase $8,500
4H Monroe County farm to school field trips $6,720
Beacon Inc. clean laundry for individuals experiencing homelessness $6,600
St. Vincent DePaul keeping people and their clothing off the floor $5,510
Monroe County United Ministries improving public health: cleaning, hygiene & diapers $5,410
Planned Parenthood safety- net family planning & sexual health services $5,320
Boys and Girls Club safety film $5,300
Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard pantry support $5,250
Wheeler Mission meal service supplies $5,230
Amethyst House residential food & treatment assessment tools $5,050
Cancer Support Community financial assistance for cancer patients $4,930
New Leaf New Life case management & transportation assistance $4,920
South Central Community Action Program equitable barrier reduction for families $4,790
Meals on Wheels groceries to go meal kits $4,740
Catholic Charities caring for clients through emergency preparedness $4,290
Grace Center food purchase $4,250
Courage to Change Sober Living case/house manager salary new men’s residence $4,190
People and Animal Learning Services EQUIPT $4,070
All- Options Hoosier diaper program $3,800
Girls Rock Bloomington summer camp $3,740
Girls Inc Her Health initiative $3,690
Be Loved Transportation Inc. Help is on the Way $3,510
Middle Way Rise & Shine $3,380
Stone Belt Hand in Hand project $3,340
Big Brother Big Sister one-to-one plus mentoring $3,300
Indiana Recovery Alliance experience with Hep C & injection drug use $3,160
Lotus 2023 Summer Festival Arts Program $3,110
First Christian Church The Welcome Table $2,940
Area 10 Agency on Aging adult guardianship program $2,820
Community Justice and Mediation Center program materials and training scholarships $2,380
Alexandra’s Army 2023 capital project $2,210
My Sister’s Closet women’s empowerment suffragettes bike rack $2,010
WFHB portable mixer for youth radio $1,780
Chamber Foundation career cruise $1,540
Writing for Change youth program instructors $930
The Warehouse Tiny Tots Treehouse $750

One thought on “Split vote this year on all Monroe County social services grant awards

  1. I support all of these awards. I do have a request. With the county property tax increases over the past few years, could you write a story on where those funds are going… I’d assumed that some of those were going to salary increases already; so I’m curious on what the salary increases have been the past 3 years and where other funds that have been the result of significan property tax increases of late have been allocated (aside from the MCCSC referendum dollars). Thank you

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