The county annually has provided a portion of the support for the 12-bed shelter, which opened in 1969 and is believed to have been the state’s first such shelter for at-risk youth. Each of the last two years, the county provided $225,000 and a county-owned building at greatly subsidized rental rates.
But the budget recently voted for by the county’s eight-member budget board does not include funding for Crossroads Youth and Family Services, the nonprofit that runs the shelter.
That omission would decrease the shelter’s estimated $520,000 budget by 43 percent.
The state Office of Juvenile Affairs provides the agency with the balance to run the shelter, along with about $350,000 to operate community-based services for the at-risk population in Cleveland and several smaller counties. There are 27 shelters and 42 youth-service agencies statewide.
Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland said the funding issue will be considered at Monday’s budget board meeting. The budget then has to be published for five days and submitted to the state. The new fiscal year starts July 1.
“You can only budget to your revenue,” said Cleveland, who chairs the budget board. “One of our biggest constitutional obligations is we want to make sure the sheriff’s office is adequately funded and the detention center is funded.”
He said the county’s budget includes about $350,000 in surplus funds that need to be saved for emergencies, not “gifted to a private, nonprofit agency.”
“We have an elevator that breaks, we have to replace it,” Cleveland said.
Supporters, including many former shelter residents, want the budget board to fund the agency one last time to give it time to find other funding.
Newly elected Norman city council member Stephen Tyler Holman said he supports extending county funds to the shelter. He remembers staying in the shelter one night when he was 15 years old after a fight with his dad.
“My main disagreement with Mr.
Cleveland is that he called it a charity. I do not consider it a charity,” Holman said. “If we are going to lock up the parents in our county jail, I think we need to take care of the kids.”
Crossroads Executive Director Lisa Winters said part of the shelter’s budget problem is that you “can’t rob Peter to pay Paul.”
The agency’s complicated $12.7 million it receives in grants and other revenues can’t be used for anything other than how they are designated.
Cleveland alleges the agency has not been forthcoming with details of how it spends its funds. Nevertheless, Crossroads’ website includes its most recent independent financial audit, an annual management report and its strategic organizational plan.
Cleveland is also critical of the shelter serving youth from outside the county.
“It’s not the county shelter anymore,” he said.
Winters said Crossroads’ board will have difficult decisions to make if the budget isn’t amended. She declined to say if the shelter would have to close.
“[Community] services will be cut. It’s just which services would be cut,” she said. “We will be having a brutal meeting if the county cuts us all together.”
Winters said Cleveland County may have given more to its shelter than other counties, and its leaders and residents should be proud of it.
“You should feel blessed and feel really proud about that,” she said.