April 28, 2011

Federal Budget Delay Forces NMCAA to Close Memphis Office

Five satellite offices for the Northeast Missouri Community Action Agency (NMCAA) including the one in Memphis, were closed earlier this month due to lingering concerns regarding the federal budget.

Executive Director Penny Miles stated the move was made on April 11th and was forced by lengthy funding delays in Washington D.C. stemming from the budget battle underway in Congress.

"It turns out, that when Congress finally approved the budget, it was a little better than we expected," Miles said. "But it was so late, it really forced our hand."

NMCAA serves low income families in Adair, Knox, Schuyler, Scotland and Clark counties. Programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will now be administered out of the Kirksville office.

"The closing of the outreach offices mean most people in Scotland County will be doing business with us through the mail or over the phone," Miles said.

The office's $226,000 budget is funded in large part through the Community Service Block Grants program. Miles said the funding is typically supplemented with additional aid in December or in January at the latest.

"We did receive this funding this year due to lateness of the budget," Miles said. "We can't obligate funds we don't have."

As a result, notice went out to service users that the local offices in Memphis, Edina and Kahoka as well as service centers in Adair and Schuyler County, would be closed. The move does not close the NMCAA Head Start facilities.

"We hope to get these offices opened back up in July," Miles said, "but that depends on how quickly the state gets the contracts approved."

That hope is also tempered by the uncertainty of future budgets.

"This new budget starts October 1st and was just finally approved," Miles said. "The debate for the 2012 budget has not even started, so we could be right back in the same place again next year. Funding for programs for low income people just doesn't look that hopeful. We're just going to have to wait and see."

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