To The Daily Sun,
As voters go to the polls to determine how tax dollars will be spent, Community Action Program, Belknap/Merrimack Counties Inc. (CAP) is asking the voters of Gilford to support Article 27 in the town warrant and appropriate $8,236 to support the local area center office located in Laconia.
Last year CAP programs provided Gilford residents with $554,200 of services returning $67.29 of service to Gilford residents for each $1 spent in support of the Laconia area center. This request is not for any social service program but solely for the operations of the area center. Staff salaries are the major budget expense.
The area center serves the residents of the city of Laconia and the five surrounding towns. We ask the city and each town we serve to share the expense of maintaining the office so that, when residents experience a hardship and find themselves unable to obtain basic needs such as food, shelter or fuel, the area center staff will be there to help them access resources for these basic life sustaining elements.
CAP works in partnership with local town and city welfare offices to assist residents in need using resources other than local tax dollars. We are awarded contracts by the state of New Hampshire to administer programs to provide basic necessities to New Hampshire residents. We are also entrusted with grants from many businesses and individuals to provide needed assistance to residents seeking help in their time of need. All of the private funds donated to our agency are used exclusively for assistance. No administrative costs are provided, therefore we ask for the city and towns to share, with other federal and state funds, in the support of the area center so that staff will always be available to assist families and individuals in need.
Last year the staff provided over 84 residents with over 750 meals from the emergency food pantry. Over 240 Gilford households were provided with $190,695 in fuel assistance, and 216 Gilford households received a discount on their electric bill because of the work of the area center staff. Over $285,375 was spent weatherizing 23 Gilford homes and $478 was provided to residents facing a utility shutoff.
Without the CAP area center these residents would have sought assistance from the town welfare office and local tax dollars for assistance which the town is required by law to provide. CAP provides other resources and not local tax dollars to help the town meet its legal commitment.
As a Gilford resident I encourage town officials to seek out resources other than my tax dollars to provide assistance to local residents. I hope the residents of Gilford find the work of the staff of Belknap/Merrimack Community Action Program worthy of support from their town.