MUSCATINE, Iowa—In response to overwhelming public input, the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors allocated $20,000 to Special Olympics Muscatine County. The $20,000 represents a cut of $10,000 from the Board’s previous annual allocations of $30,000.
Board member Santos Saucedo opened the discussion of Special Olympics funding, outlining his plan to remove $20,000 from Muscatine Center for Social Action previously spent on their care coordinator. Though Saucedo acknowledged the Board would need to work with MCSA to support any challenges the funding loss caused, he felt the worth of supporting Special Olympics justified it. “I think it’s an important and a needed service, knowing what Special Olympics does for our public and our community,” he said.
However, Community Services Director Felicia Toppert expressed discomfort with removing the money from MCSA. “I’m concerned because MCSA has had a ramp up of the population that they have in there,” she said. Toppert indicated removing funding from DHS would make more sense. After further discussion, the Board unanimously voted to take $10,000 from DHS and $10,000 from the proposed public health diabetes care coordinator position to fund Special Olympics.
Though the Board partially funded Special Olympics for this year, they did express concern that they may have to further reduce spending in subsequent years. Toppert even suggested that they may continue to draw down Special Olympics’ funding by $10,00 a year for two more years. The Board seemed accepting of this idea, but also willing to give Special Olympics advance notice of their plans.
Special Olympics Muscatine County Director Jason Miller appreciated the Board’s decision to partially fund the program: “We understand the funding challenges the county board is facing and they understand what a vital program this is to our community. In the end, it’s good to see a compromise on both sides and I applaud them for their decision to continue the partnership we have in place.”
Looking to the future, Miller acknowledges the challenges of possible future budget cuts, but hopes to continue working with the Board to keep the program strong: “It is my hope to keep our programs in place, but with a complete phase out and an uncertain future, some things may have to give. What that is or what that looks like, I’m not quite certain. Like part of our athlete oath, we’ll continue to, ‘be brave in the attempt.’ We’ll stay positive and show the people of Muscatine the power of sports has in our lives and how inclusion and living a healthy life should be an available resource to those who seek it.”