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Perryville Outreach Program takes steps toward nonprofit status

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Perryville Outreach Program

PERRYVILLE — Getting a 501(c)3 designation for the Perryville Outreach Program will help the popular after school and summer camp program get more funding and the elected officials agree with that plan suggested by Danielle Hemling, director of the program.

However Mayor Robert Ashby said the draft of the paperwork to seek nonprofit status left him with concern that the town would lose control of the program, for which Perryville budgets $200,000 annually.

The Perryville Outreach Program is a free service offered to school-aged children. Started in 2006 as the Perryville Juvenile Outreach Program, it was initially designed to redirect children at risk of entering the juvenile justice system. The Perryville Police Department would refer young people to the program for intervention. However it has since dropped the “Juvenile” from its title and has become a free after school and summer camp program, still offering life skills, homework help and community service.

Denise Breder, town administrator, said Perryville Police Chief Allen Miller mentioned that since the OP no longer gets any referrals from the police perhaps it should not be included in the police department budget.

“It has changed to more of a community outreach,” Breder said Wednesday.

While he is not opposed to keeping the program in the town budget, Ashby dislikes what he perceives as town control being wrested from the elected body with the nonprofit designation.

“Now we’re going to fund the Outreach Program and we’re not going to have any say?” Ashby said, referring to that draft document that outlines the roles of an executive director and a director. “Nine pages and not one page said we’d have any control.”

Hemling acknowledged that the language in the draft could be misconstrued but said that was not the intent.

“It was formatted to give them an idea of what a 501(c)3 looks like,” she said of the Internal Revenue Service code for the tax-exempt status.

Like the Friends of the Perryville Library, Hemling said the nonprofit arm of Perryville Outreach would be in charge of fundraising.

“We would still be run by the town,” Hemling said. “This would be money in addition to, or instead of money from the town.”

Ashby liked the idea of the OP becoming self supporting to some degree.

“It’s a great program; such a great program that it’s getting too big for the town,” he said. “But I would be opposed to this program not being under the police department.”

In December the program moved from the converted single family home on Otsego Street where it had operated since 2012, to the Cifaldo Building on Elm Street. Hemling reported recently that since the move participation has swelled and even the larger space is not enough most days.

Ashby said he and commissioners plan to continue the discussion, which started Tuesday night in a closed session after the March 3 town meeting. By that time Hemling said Fed Sussman, town attorney, would have time to draft something more in keeping with the vision the town has for the program.

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