Excerpt of St. Petersburg Branch NAACP’s Letter to Mayor Kriseman

Maria Scruggs

Re: FY 2018 Budget & Call To Action

Dear Mayor Kriseman:

Over the last 20 months, the St. Petersburg Branch NAACP has worked tirelessly to embrace and operationalize the mission of the NAACP of ensuring the political, educational, social and economic equity for minority people in St. Petersburg, FL. We have also sought to forge partnerships with any community stakeholders who share like missions.

The St. Petersburg Branch NAACP has been supportive of your vision of St. Petersburg becoming a city where the sun shines on everyone and the strategic pathways of stewardship, innovation, impactful service and community engagement served as the gateways to achieve that vision. However, after a review of the FY 2018 budget we are concerned that your proposed budget items which would primarily impact  Midtown and Child Park doesn’t  substantively represent a commitment to see your vision and values as evidenced below:

The Fiscal Year 2018 Budget all but ignored the fundamental need for genuine community engagement as evidenced in the following:

In or around 2012 I personally began to attend budget meetings and CRA meetings to advocate for support of an economic strategy to support independently owned early childhood education homes and centers between 4th Street and 50th Street South and between Central Avenue and 62nd Street as an economic development and an early childhood education strategy in south St. Petersburg.

Your FY 18 budget contains $100,000 to support a USFSP pilot for a business management training for center directors.  It is obvious that my voice was heard in light of the fact your budget has placed a focus on early childhood centers in south St. Petersburg. However, authentic community engagement would have resulted in your administration reaching back out to the same community representatives to simply say…..we heard you……how can we assist you all……as opposed  to turning to an educational institution to solve the very problem for the very community that raised the awareness. Now that institution must turn back to the community and tell us what we need.

A 2016 publication by the Agenda 2020 task force, a source heavily relied on by your administration indicated 56% of African-American youth live in poverty in St. Petersburg. Your budgetary allocation for summer youth employment is not consistent with your value of stewardship. If the intent is to make an impact on summer youth employment your budget must represent a sizable amount of funds to be used for summer youth employment in addition to a strategy that sustains your FY 18 budget contains $35,000 for Summer Youth Employment. $35,000 for summer youth employment will cover the cost of approximately 5 youth working at $10.00 per hour for six weeks. This is assuming none of that $35,000 will be utilized for administrative costs.

Recommendations:

In regard to the $100,000 budgeted for the USFSP Early Childhood Education Collaborative,  if approved the City Administrators should allow for a budget modification which requires USFSP to first work with the NAACP to facilitate discussions with providers for them to identify the barriers, if any preventing them from providing a quality early childhood experience for our children.

In regard to the $35,000 for the STYLES program, the NAACP is recommending a funding increase in the amount of $300,000 an amount  equal to what the Council approved to build  a skate board park in Campbell Park. African-American teens living in Childs Park are living in poverty, they need jobs not skateboard parks.

Due to space limitations please request all of the NAACP FY 2018 Budget Recommendations at communications-naacp@stpete.org

Maria Scruggs

Maria Scruggs

A call to action by Friday, July 7, 2017: If you agree with all of the NAACP’s FY 18 budget recommendations, please call Mayor Kriseman at (727) 893 7201 or email him at mayor@stpete.org and email council members at council@stpete.org

Maria L. Scruggs, President, St. Petersburg Branch NAACP

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