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32 SERVICE GROUPS ASK COUNCIL TO RESTORE AID

Thirty-two organizations asked the Common Council Wednesday evening to restore their aid under the federal block grant program.

Mayor Anthony M. Masiello's plan would eliminate the aid by trimming more than $1.3 million in funding to neighborhood and community groups in order to comply with a federal guideline setting a 15 percent limit on spending for human services.

Council Member at Large Beverly Gray, who led the hearing, was asked later what the next step is.

"Get the Council in a room, beat up the mayor a little bit, take some of his money and give it back to the citizens," she quipped. "We hope to have this wrapped up at least in the next 10 days. If we give the budget back early, we'll start a new trend."

Community Services Commissioner Donald O. Allen added: "If we can do this by March, we can wrap it up with the Council, and by May we can start receiving our money from HUD (the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development)."

Allen said a misprint in City Hall raised major concerns that People Inc. would receive no funding next year. He said People Inc. will again receive $45,000.

Masten Council Member Antoine M. Thompson said it is time to eliminate duplication of services among some agencies that have traditionally been funded.

"My only concern is that you've got a lot of groups that receive resources, and we've got to look at ways to streamline things, particularly some of our youth programs," he said. "There are so many folks doing different programs, and we've got to look at ways these organizations can collaborate."

Thompson said he met last week with many youth agencies to discuss how they can collaborate. He plans to meet with them again in March.

Joanna Angie, director of the Buffalo Arts Studio in the Tri-Main Center, asked for $25,000 for the coming year.

"We have initiated a major education program over the past two years," she said. "It's advanced arts training. We work with 8-year-olds and follow them up to college, to prepare them to apply to college. And these are the kids who are slipping through the cracks. So we go out to the schools and seek them out through the art teachers' recommendations. We have 60 kids in the program with university professors teaching them. That costs a lot of money."

Oswaldo Mestre, director of the Buffalo Weed and Seed program of AmeriCorps, said he received $76,500 last year but stands to receive nothing next year. The program has 32 youths cleaning lots and planting vegetation in the Ellicott, Fillmore and Masten districts and a sliver of Lovejoy.

Stacy A. Slagor, director of grants development for D'Youville College, said its Summer Youth Program received $12,860 last year but may get nothing next year. The program has operated for the past decade.

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