The Midcoast Youth Center, a Bath nonprofit serving local students, is asking the city council to reconsider its annual funding allotment after councilors slashed the city’s contribution from $30,000 last year to $3,000.

Midcoast Youth Center Founder Jamie Dorr said while the city’s $30,000 contribution is a small piece of the nonprofit’s $479,000 annual budget, it covers the organization’s operations bill, including paying for electricity, internet, trash removal and some food and materials the center offers students for free.

“We don’t own the building that we’re in, so we pay rent to the city of Bath in the amount of $2,000 a month, which is about $24,000 a year,” said Dorr. “A lot of that funding obviously helped to offset that cost.”

The youth center operates out of the Bath Skatepark and provides free afterschool programs with adult mentors, homework clubs and art classes. The youth center also has free snacks, provided by the Bath Area Backpack Program, donated clothing for children in need, and volunteers bring in free meals three times a week.

Dorr said the youth center sees about 30 kids per day and has served 197 students since January. Last year, the center served 550 students.

Although the nonprofit is supported by grants and donations from the community, those funds carry limitations in how they can be used, and none can be used to cover operating costs.

In the city’s initial proposed budget, the city was planning to give the youth center $29,025, nearly meeting the nonprofit’s request. The initial budget also eliminated a full-time firefighter position that’s currently empty, but the city hoped to fill later, said Bath Finance Director Juli Millett.

The city council decided to keep the firefighter position, creating the need to make cuts to nonprofit funding. The youth center bore the brunt of that because it requested the most money. The second highest request came from the Bath Area Food Bank, which requested $5,000.

City Council Chairman Aaron Park said councilors “faced a challenging budget this year” because cuts had to be made to stay under the city’s expenditure limit. Councilors were forced to choose between funding city operations and answering requests from area non-profits.

“In the end, departmental needs were pitted against donation requests from non-profit groups,” Park wrote in a statement to The Times Record. “Given the restrictions of the expenditure limitation, the council chose to fund a public safety position by reducing donations.”

“I know that the counselors are under an incredible amount of pressure and stress, and they have very specific limitations through the spending cap that they cannot get around,” said Dorr. “But, it’s a very difficult year with what we’ve gone through in the past year, to feel this loss, and this amount of loss was really devastating news for us.”

The 90% drop in funding also came in a year the nonprofit was unable to hold its two main fundraisers due to COVID-19 restrictions. Together, the two fundraisers brought in about $22,000 for the nonprofit to use as needed.

Dorr said she fears the $27,000 cut from the city will impact the free programming the nonprofit offers students.

Dorr said she was about to begin planning the organization’s annual Set For Success event, which provides free backpacks, school supplies and haircuts for students in August before school begins.

“We were just about to launch that fundraising campaign and now we’re trying to figure outfit we can still do it with this budget cut,” she said.

City councilors will vote on the proposed budget at their June city council meeting. If approved, the budget will take effect July 1.


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