Edinburg City Council Cuts Funding for Public Assistance Program
EDINBURG - A group of students were left with questions after the city of Edinburg cut funding for an assistance program they received help from.
Edinburg city council denied funding for the Mercedes-based organization Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement at a public meeting Tuesday night.
V.I.D.A helps Rio Grande Valley residents who are unemployed and underemployed climb out of poverty. They said they were expecting to receive approximately $200,000.
V.I.D.A board director Priscilla Alvarez said she’s unsure what the organization will do next for the 55 Edinburg students they serve. The non-profit organization had received funding for the past five years.
“They voted to resend our funding. When we were here in September and prior years, they’ve always approved our funding and have been huge supporters of the work that we do,” she said.
In September, the city council voted to approve a budget for 2017-2018 that included funding for V.I.D.A.
However, the vote to solely approve the organization’s budget was denied in December. The votes came to a tie and Mayor Richard Garcia abstained from voting. His wife is the executive director for the organization.
Edinburg council member Richard Molina said residents have expressed concern for a conflict of interest the city has with the organization.
“They’re afraid to address those opinions and I don’t want the meeting to become unprofessional. I don’t want it to become about that,” he said. “However, that’s what everybody is saying. Why they’ve received so much funding over the past several years.”
Molina said he’s willing to work with the board if they consider other non-profits which have been turned down for funding. He said he wasn’t to disperse funds evenly.
Edinburg resident Kristy Gayta said the decision will affect her negatively.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be able to pay for childcare for my kids and I would probably have to drop out of school,” she said.
Gayta and other 54 students said they now have to wait for another session to see if funding will be reinstated.
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