Monday, July 15, 2024

Are We Funding the VNA?


By Dave Mullane

“We’re doing this because we’ve always done it,” she said after the meeting. “But is that a good reason for this? Let’s not go down this route anymore.”

The Stratford VNA, an over 100-year-old nonprofit that provides services to about 20 towns and cities in southeastern Fairfield County and southwestern New Haven County, has, for years, including last year’s Town Budget,  been giving this group around $50,000 a year and no other town that it services gives any money to it.

Bill O’Brien stated that the $50K while not a lot of money it seemed extreme giving the salary cost at VNA especially when compared to Sterling House cost. O’Brien later changed his mind saying in a budget workshop that giving away money that no other does makes Stratford a great town.

In 2017 the VNA purchased 3060 Main St for $950,000 and then spend another $500,000 to bring the building up to code. This building used to give the town around $25,000 a year in property taxes. When the VNA purchased the building, they paid 2 years’ worth of back taxes from 2015 and 2016 but since then that revenue source has been lost to the town because the VNA is nonprofit.

In 2022 the VNA reported a surplus of $61,847 why did we need to give them $55,000?

In 2022 the VNA paid out $1,207,188 in income to the top 6 employees which was up $48,592 from 2021

The VNA runs a surplus and gives out huge raises it doesn’t appear they need the Stratford donation.

.In 2021 the VNA reported a surplus of $1,655,039 why are we giving them $55,000? Part of that huge surplus must be due to the $865,000 in PPP “loan” money that was given to them in May 2020, and it was forgiven.

In 2021 the VNA paid out $978,516 to the top 6 employees which was up $78,788 from 2020.

In 2020 the VNA reported a deficit of -$248,754

In 2020 the VNA paid out $899,728 to the top 6 people however the 2019 filing does not list the top 6 earners

2019 does state the top 4 were paid $624,746 and when you at the top 4 for 2020 that amount is $647,130 an increase of $22,384.

The VNA is doing very good. Their 2 top earners are bringing home over $20K a month — that’s BOE superintendent type cash. It’s almost double the mayor’s salary.

Maybe years ago the VNA needed our help but they seem way past needing our help now.

In a town with folks living with food insecurity, and students needing help this money could be well used elsewhere.

$55,000 to the local food banks can help a lot more people than raises to the top 6 people in the VNA.

Back in 2016 Democrat council chair Beth Daponte and 8th district Republican Vin Chase made the case for stopping this funding as they saw it wasn’t needed.

“Council Chairwoman Beth Daponte opposed the VNA funding, noting that it’s the only charity that the town supports with no formal ties to the town. (Sterling House is a charity, too, but it operates a number of town-sponsored programs, and it has deep ties to Town Hall.) “What we’re doing here is giving a nonprofit — a nonprofit with no formal arrangements or agreements with the town — fifty-three thousand dollars,” she said. “It’s a lot of money. It’s a lot of money one year, it’s a lot of money next year and it’s a lot of money the year after that.” She said that the VNA allotment was nearly equivalent to “the salary of a teacher” and that “it would be difficult to justify” giving money to the VNA as opposed any one or more of the scores of charities that help out Stratfordites.”

Budget workshops are coming up again starting next week. “That’s the way it has always been done.” “We’ve always done it this way.” These are the most dangerous phrases we could use in the workplace and school.


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