The Bayonne Police Athletic League (PAL) has received more much-needed funding for after school homework assistance for the children in the program.
The City Council passed a resolution authorizing and additional $8,000 in Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) funding for the PAL. The money would be for the cost of two additional teachers to help with homework.
In addition to the previous allotment the PAL received of $15,000 in CDBG-CV funds for childcare program PPE supplies, the grand total is now $23,000. This comes in addition to the $16,650 in regular CDBG funds the PAL Day Care Center was awarded in August of 2022 for its after school and summer camp child care programs.
However, the regular CDBG funds it received this year decreased by $8,350. The PAL routinely requests $75,000 in CDBG grant funding each year, and was awarded $25,000 in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Allegations of ‘political retribution’
The extra CDBG-CV funding came after Executive Director “KT” Kim Torello addressed the council in September, alleging that the PAL had received more funding cuts than any other CDBG applicant and had not yet been awarded its funding.
Torello alleged it was “political retribution” against the PAL because he ran for city council on a slate with former City Council President and mayoral candidate Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski against Mayor James Davis in the May municipal election this year.
In response to Torello, CDBG Executive Director Samantha Howard noted that other organizations also saw decreases in funding as the program overall as the city improves financially. Howard said that the amount of funding has decreased by nearly $159,000. In 2022, the city was awarded approximately $1,374,343, down from approximately $1,511,913 in 2021. She added that there were additional funds available to any non-profit that applies and demonstrates a need, that being the CDBG-CV funding.
Davis said that it wasn’t political but based on a formula that saw other non-profits decrease in CDBG funding. According to Davis, he and Law Director Jay Coffey previously helped the PAL out of financial ruin, helped it regain its non-profit status, and found it a home at William Shemin Midtown Community School at 550 Avenue A. He added that the PAL’s CDBG funding was awarded back in August and that Torello should “do his homework” before speaking at council meetings and making accusations.
Torello again addressed the council in October, claiming that despite the city’s explanations in response to his allegations, he still felt something was “fishy” about the whole ordeal, specifically the timeline of the PAL’s receipt of the award letter. While officials did not further address his claims, at that meeting Howard reiterated that there was the additional funding through the CDBG-CV funds that the PAL had not yet applied for.
Torello said that the PAL was working on it, but that the available funding wasn’t explained to him that way. Now, the PAL has obviously since applied as the council has approved the award of the additional funds.
More funds awarded after public comment fiasco
At the November meeting, the Bayonne Youth Center was also awarded CDBG-CV funds to the tune of $72,000 for additional community outreach initiatives. This was an increase to their already awarded CDBG-CV funds for this year of $34,000 for community outreach services, bringing the total contract amount to $106,000. The Bayonne Youth Center was also awarded regular CDBG funds in August to the tune of $13,000 for after school enrichment programs and support for community outreach programs.
In response to the awards, resident Gail Godesky asked why the city was increasing one by a significant amount but not the other, referencing Torello’s previous claims before the council. Coffey said both were being increased based off of what they requested of available CDBG-CV funds.
“Remember how Director Howard got up and said there was additional money available, please submit your requests? Well they did,” Coffey said.
“Yeah but why so little for the PAL?” Godesky asked.
“You get what you ask for,” Coffey replied. “They asked for $8,000, they got $8,000. They put justification for why they needed an additional $8,000. I believe it was to bring on two teachers to address homework needs.”
According to Coffey, while the PAL requested $8,000 for their needs, the Bayonne Youth Center requested $72,000. In response to Godesky asking if the PAL could apply for more in the future, he said their application could be amended but he wasn’t sure and that this was their opportunity to apply for as much funding as they needed.
“The Bayonne Youth Center actually put in a more comprehensive list of things that they needed, things that were required, things that they were requesting,” Coffey said. “They were both given the exact amount they requested.”
Torello was not present at the November meeting and did not address the council again. However, it seems that the PAL got what it asked for financially despite his allegations of political interference, and youth who frequent the center will get two additional teachers to help with homework.
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