VOICe continues despite $125,000 cut
November 21, 2012
A Butler nonprofit agency that helps victims of domestic violence is dealing with the loss of federal funds. Robert Marchese, executive director of the Victim Outreach Intervention Center, said the agency would have received more than $125,000 of the $400,000 Arrest Grant over the next two years. Marchese said his priority is to continue service to clients during the unexpected budget crunch. He said the impact on services and staff won’t be felt this year because it’s early in the fiscal year, which the grant funding follows. “When it becomes financially and logistically difficult, obviously services will slow down and back up,” Marchese said. “However, our commitment will not.” County officials initially estimated the loss to VOICe would amount to more than $170,000, but Marchese said the actual number is closer to $125,000. He said the grant funding affects up to six workers. VOICe has a total of 41 employees. “In February, we’ll probably have to take a serious look at those numbers,” Marchese said. The majority of the grant from the U.S. Department of Justice is used by the Butler County district attorney. With the loss in funding, the salary of an assistant district attorney now comes from the county’s general fund. The grant formerly funded 90 percent of the salary, which is $34.65 an hour, and benefits. County officials were told last month the grant application was rejected. District Attorney Richard Goldinger blamed the rejection on a former employee botching the process and missing the deadline. Linda Cranmer, the former victim witness assistant coordinator, was subsequently suspended without pay Oct. 11. She was accused of misleading Goldinger about the status of the application. Rather than face being fired, Cranmer resigned. According to Cranmer, she was told by Department of Justice staff there was no problem meeting the March 26 deadline. Cranmer said on Nov. 7 VOICe was late in submitting information for the application. Marchese refuted that claim. “Our grant work was completed, reviewed and processed to the D.A.’s office early in the morning of the due date, long before the deadline of midnight,” he said. Marchese said on March 26, the district attorney’s office requested help with information needed for the county’s portion of the application. “We quickly and professionally completed and processed to them before midday,” he said. Marchese said he is working with Goldinger to work around the funding gap. The county can reapply next year for the grant. Separate from grant funding, the county in 2012 contributed $20,000 to VOICe. The county commissioners are mulling whether to give more in 2013. Commissioner Bill McCarrier, board chairman, said whether there would be a larger donation next year is dependent on how the 2013 county budget shapes up. “We are waiting on the final numbers of our budget,” he said. “We would like to help them.” The Winfield Township supervisors last week allotted $500 to the agency from its 2013 budget.