Efforts to get aid for the Laurel Boys & Girls Club has resulted in a proposal to create a city commission to disburse funds to youth groups in general, which club officials say will add to Laurel’s challenges.
“I don’t disagree that other organizations should receive funding. The Boys & Girls Club hosts a lot of these organizations. But what I think they have done is open up a whole can of worms,” Laurel Boys & Girls Club President Levet Brown said.
A task force charged with suggesting long-term funding solutions for the Laurel Boys & Girls Club recommended that the city create a commission that would allocate a total of $125,000 annually to community-based youth services and programs, and the Boys & Girls Club could apply for those funds, as could other organizations.
City Council President Frederick Smalls (Ward 2) said the council will carefully consider the recommendations and discuss them at a future date.
Brown approached the mayor and council in February, requesting the city’s assistance in funding for operational costs, which Brown said the club has struggled to meet on its own.
Brown said he felt the task force drifted away from its original purpose by making recommendations that include other youth service nonprofits.
The task force also recommended the city create a $250,000 line of short-term credit that could be accessed by organizations that have been approved for reimbursement grants.
Brown testified before the task force that the club had missed out on grant opportunities because it did not have the upfront funds required for reimbursement grants.
“Again, it opens the door for everyone: churches, groups just coming into Laurel, schools,” Brown said, adding that he expected a huge demand for the line of credit.
However, Monique Holland, co-chair of the task force, said the funding is to assist with operational costs, and that while there are many organizations in Laurel providing youth services, few have their own building, and therefore do not have the same degree of financial need or grant opportunities as the club.
“Of all the nonprofit organizations that came in and testified, none of them have their own buildings,” Holland said. “I think the greatest need, due to the operational costs for the building, is the Boys & Girls Club.”
The task force also recommended the city hire consultants to provide options for the club’s aging facility. The 113-year-old building, listed on the National Historic Trust, was purchased by the club for $1 in 2002 after the county declared it surplus property.
“I think it’s a good idea, where they will hire someone to come in and determine the costs to completely renovate the building,” Brown said.
Smalls said the council would carefully consider the recommendations.
“I think the important thing for us is not to rush it, to take our time to analyze the data and digest the information,” Smalls said.