Private contributions should ensure about a dozen Montgomery County events continue this year, despite cuts in public funding.
A $300 million shortfall in the $4.4 billion fiscal 2012 budget forced County Executive Isiah Leggett to propose reducing funding for community events, said Patrick Lacefield, Leggett’s spokesman.
“We just had to get more creative over the last five years,” he said.
Bruce Adams, director of the county’s Office of Community Partnerships, said he and Leggett believe the events are important to sustaining the “energy that makes Montgomery County special.” As a result, they have initiated a partnership with a nonprofit — The Community Foundation for Montgomery County, a regional affiliate of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region — to create the Fund for Montgomery to solicit private contributions that will pay for important events.
The fund, which Adams started over the summer with Leggett’s support, is independent of the county and is administered exclusively by the foundation, Adams said.
Transparency and a lack of “hanky-panky” were key for Adams when the fund was created, he said.
Cheryl Kagan, a consultant contracted by the foundation to grow the fund, said the Fund for Montgomery is a partnership among the county, volunteers, donors, and nonprofit organizations. Private donors contribute to the fund, which supplements the work of the county and provides opportunities for nonprofits to recruit new volunteers, she said.
In 2011, the Fund for Montgomery supported the return of the World of Montgomery Festival, which cost approximately $25,000. The county did not hold in 2010 for lack of money, Adams said. It also supported the annual Community Service Day.
Kagan said she is aiming to raise $250,000 in 2012, an estimate for what it would take to support the 12 county events whose funding is being cut. Those events include the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Celebration on Jan. 16, Community Service Day, World of Montgomery Festival and several ethnic events, she said.
Each event is budgeted individually, Kagan said. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Celebration has a budget of about $38,000.
At the start of 2012, Kagan had raised more than $125,000 and significantly more had been pledged, she said.
Kagan said fundraising launched in late summer, and was aided by a $40,000 contribution from Leggett’s campaign fund, Friends of Ike Leggett.
Mostly larger monetary donations are being solicited for the fund, Kagan said. But some private donors have contributed in-kind, including advertising donated by The Gazette. A few nonprofits have contributed amounts less than $5,000, she said.
Despite transferring the purse strings to The Community Foundation for Montgomery County, county taxpayers will still provide some revenue for the events. Lacefield said the county budgeted $2,500 for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day events.