The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted, 4-1, on Tuesday to extend its annual $75,000 contract with the Green Valley Council, the final installment of a five-year agreement.
Thus far, there has been no discussion about extending it. The agreement was put into place in 2016, as the GVC was facing severe financial challenges, and requires the group to act as a liaison between the county and local residents.
GVC President Thao Tiedt said Monday they will likely have a $12,000 deficit at the end of the year but she isn't raising alarm bells about the council's viability.
Tiedt said the GVC had healthy financial reserves but had to draw more than $70,000 from it after losing revenue from a community directory contract in 2015. Today, the council's unrestricted reserves are about $100,000, she said.
With projected deficits, the council will draw on those reserves again despite not having replenished them after the 2015 withdrawal.
"That's not good," Tiedt said. "The rule of thumb in non-profits is one year's budget in reserve." This year's GVC budget is $276,285.
The $75,000 annual contract GVC has had with Pima County is paid out monthly and began in January 2016. Tuesday's approval is the last extension.
Tiedt said it is too early to talk about how the GVC will approach a new contract with the county and whether it will remain at $75,000. However, it would likely come before mid-2020; the county sets its budget in July, she said.
Supervisor Steve Christy said that while the contract came into effect a year before he took office, he has continued to support it.
Supervisor Ally Miller opposed the contract at Tuesday's meeting and told the board the funds should come out of Christy's constituent funding.
Christy said he supports renewing the county's contract with GVC in the future but any increase to the $75,000 annual amount would require further study.
"I would have to reflect on and confer with the GVC Executive Committee and Finance Committee and just kind of have a little more in-depth feeling for what their financial situation is," Christy said.
There are two other non-jurisdictional groups in Christy's district – the Southeast Regional Council and the Tanque Verde Area Council. Neither has a similar service contracts with Pima County.
"They are still in their formative stages," Christy said. "Certainly, if there comes a time when the services they provide on behalf of the county justify county support, I certainly would entertain looking at a similar set-up with them. But I feel at this point that's some time off."
While the $75,000 service contract does fill in some of GVC's revenue funding, it's not the only source. GVC also provides services, such as HOA mediation.
"But we walk a fine line," Tiedt said. "We don't want to commercialize the council."
Tiedt said the council is voting in January to raise annual dues from $9.50 to $12 per rooftop. Membership fees make up about 42 percent of GVC's revenue. Increasing dues will not immediately affect GVC's deficit and would not be effective until 2021.
"Even if the dues go up, it will not kick in until the following year," Tiedt said.
It's been around
While the other two councils in Christy's district are in the formative stages, the GVC had been a well-established group for decades. GVC formed 45 years ago.
Tiedt said GVC provides cost savings to the county, and while they receive $75,000 for their services, the contract is a bargain.
"We are performing the work of almost four people working full time," she said.
Tiedt told the board Tuesday that GVC expects to have 7,160 volunteer hours by the end of this year, or about 1,000 more than last year.
Tiedt attributed part of the increase to work for three county parks – Canoa Hills Trails-An Open Space Park, Historic Canoa Ranch and Canoa Preserve – having been part of GVC's service request system at the county's request.
There are more than 200 volunteers, most of whom have higher educations and provide professional expertise, she said. There are also five staff members at GVC – three part-time and two full-time employees – who account for less than four full-time equivalent positions.
The county contract requires the GVC to facilitate service requests and has it act as a liaison between the county and Green Valley residents. According to the contract, GVC provides assessment, analysis, coordination, evaluation and identifying issues requiring county services.
"If you had to pay us the going rate for just volunteers, not the going rate for employees of Pima County, it would cost $182,000," Tiedt told the board. "You pay us $75,000, which means we turned back to the taxpayers $107,000 this year."