MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Members of a community group in Manhattan are working to garner support for social services funding after several city commissioners proposed cuts to that section of the budget.
"Save Our Social Services" (or S.O.S.) supporters were outside of 12 Manhattan churches Sunday in an effort to get Little Apple residents to back their cause.
The group is fighting for continued funding of social services after city commissioners proposed slashing that part of the budget.
"There are a number of organizations where they’re proposing to cut funding for these services and the funding is being cut at the federal level and at the state level at some point, someone has to pick up the safety net.," said Bill Dorsett, a member of "Save Our Social Services" who was outside of First Congregational Church Sunday asking for signatures from registered Manhattan voters.
S.O.S. is collecting close to 1,500 signatures on a petition for an ordinance that would ensure that social services funding continues. The ordinance would require Manhattan to spend 2% of the general fund on social services funding every year. Once the signatures are certified as valid by the county, the petitions and ordinance go to the city commission. The commission has 20 days to enact (pass) the ordinance. If commission members do not enact it, the proposal for the ordinance must be placed on the ballot for a public vote. If passed by the voters, the ordinance is unalterable by the commission for ten years and takes effect immediately. It would apply to the city's' 2013 budget.
Currently, ten agencies get city funding: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club, The Crisis Center, Homecare and Hospice, Sunflower CASA, The Manhattan Emergency Shelter, Kansas Legal Services, Shepherd's Crossing, KSU Child Development Center and UFM Community Learning Center.
"I just think that we need to have these services. A city is responsible for their people. I don’t want people to have to move out of Manhattan, Kansas because we can’t offer them the social services that they need to live in our community. And then that will only leave an elite group of people living in our city who don’t need any social services and that’s not what I want my children to grow up to be with," said S.O.S. member Tracey Weston.
The "Save Our Social Services" group believes city government has an obligation to help the poor and most vulnerable members of the community.
In a press release sent out regarding Sunday's signature petition drive, Geri Simon, S.O.S. co-chair stated: "People have clearly told the city commission they support social services spending. Some of our city commissioners have a narrow philosophy of government and think social service spending should be entirely turned over to the private sector. They believe churches and non-profit organizations should just do a better job of fundraising. They don't think government should invest money in social services. We know most Manhattanites disagree..."
The Social Services Advisory Board budget has amounted to 1.7%-2% of the city's general fund budget for the last 9 years..
The total Social Services Advisory Board for 2012 is $373, 600.