There may be alternative sources of funding for the Greater Bristol Visiting Nurse Association’s charity program.
Mayor Art Ward said Friday that he believes that U.S. Rep. John Larson, the East Hartford Democrat whose district includes Bristol, may be able to steer the group to new sources of revenue.
“There might be an alternate source of funding for them,” Ward said.
The mayor, the VNA and Larson’s staff plan to meet Tuesday to explore options, the mayor said.
“It’s definitely worth exploring,” Ward said.
The city wiped out $70,000 worth of aid to the nonprofit this year – leaving just $100 in its budget for the VNA – as part of an effort to pare spending and hold down property taxes.
The move shocked VNA officials, who are as a consequence eyeing a big reduction in the free and reduced price care they can offer to the city’s poor.
The organization provides well child clinics that offer immunizations to uninsured children and hundreds of home care visits to the city’s indigent or underinsured to try to help them remain in their homes.
Ward said the VNA, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, performs “a great service and I think it’s invaluable to the community.”
But, he said, the city can’t come up with aid for the group this year.
Municipal officials have asked the VNA to dip into its $1.5 million rainy day fund to cover the lost revenue this year, but the association’s leaders said that doing so would be fiscally irresponsible.
The city itself has more than $17 million in its rainy day fund. It didn’t tap into the cash for its budget this year because finance officials said that touching the money would hurt Bristol’s credit rating and ultimately cost taxpayers more.
Ward said the city would review its funding for the VNA during the next budget cycle in the spring and might be able to restore the help.But, he said, it would be better if the state or federal government stepped in to fill the gap since they have far more resources to bring to bear.
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