DuPage defers SCARCE funding decision
By Susan Frick Carlman email@example.com May 21, 2012 3:34PM
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:11AM
The nonprofit that shows businesses, schools and other DuPage County organizations how to make the world a little greener will need to wait at least three more weeks to learn its financial fate.
At the suggestion of Naperville representative Jim Healy, the DuPage County Board agreed to table a proposal to provide $58,500 to School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education to keep its programs going through Nov. 30, the end of fiscal 2012.
Healy said putting off the decision to the board’s June 12 meeting will allow more time for SCARCE president and founder Kay McKeen to devise a strategy for funding the agency on an ongoing basis.
“The idea has always been so that she doesn’t have to do this every year,” Healy said.
This is the second time in less than a year that SCARCE has heard its county support was on the brink of depletion. The board in November tapped contingency funds and saved money from a suspended paint recycling program to fill a $67,250 gap, enough to keep the SCARCE programs going until June 30, the end of its yearly contract with the county.
The problem is that commitments are in place for the remaining six months of the county’s budget year, and no money remains to pay for them.
Healy said the board will certainly cut the funding it provides next year, but likely will provide a grant that will enable the agency to pay for help tapping new revenue streams.
In a meeting Tuesday afternoon, McKeen heard input from Healy and three other County Board members, plus Brook McDonald of the Conservation Foundation in Naperville. Healy has cited the foundation as a good example of broad-based funding success and said he is encouraging McKeen to collaborate with McDonald to draw out new funding sources.
“They definitely want me to raise more money,” she said.
According to Healy, one obvious option is to tap the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County for a portion of its annual support. It also makes sense, he said, to ask school districts and municipalities and other public entities to pay modest fees for the services they receive from SCARCE. The organization has saved such groups many millions of dollars by paring their energy use, disposal costs and other outlays in the two decades since it was established.
The board heard plenty of input from supporters of SCARCE. Nine of them spoke when the members met as a finance committee, and another two dozen weighed in with their support for SCARCE before the full board later in the evening. Many described assorted ways the organization has changed habits countywide, triggering repeated applause.
“There has been some talk of weaning SCARCE from the county,” said Downers Grove resident Hilary Denk. “That may be a mistake when you think about how wonderfully this county has been impacted by this organization ... Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”
Carol Stream Mayor Frank Saverino implored the board to find a way to fund the organization, noting that McKeen was able to raise nearly $128,000 last year.
“People don’t give money to people that don’t know what they’re doing,” Saverino said. “I’m not an Al Gore guy, believe me, but this is the future.”
His village was the first municipality in the county to earn the now-pervasive earth flag, and SCARCE programs have allowed residents and businesses to substantially cut their expenses, he said.
“If this program isn’t one of the best programs you’ve got going in DuPage County, I’m missing something,” Saverino said.