Manhattan city officials approved 15 funding recommendations for special alcohol and social services funds Tuesday, but denied a funding request from True Colors, a nonprofit organization providing education and support to queer and trans youth, for a second consecutive year.

The 2-1 decision was largely political, with Commissioner John Matta motioning to move the organization’s $8,500 request for special alcohol funds to Pawnee Mental Health Services, which also received $94,000 of its $120,000 request. The city is allocating over a half million dollars in taxes collected from alcohol sales that are distributed to organizations that provide substance abuse prevention and treatment, something Matta claims True Colors lacks specifics on.

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Matta says he believes the approach used by True Colors actually endangers trans youth further.

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The Trevor Project, a 2022 national survey on LGBTQ youth mental health, found that LGBTQ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ people reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not. It also found 45% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.

Commissioner Wynn Butler voted against Matta’s motion, largely because of the city’s decision last year to dissolve the Social Services Advisory Board and Special Alcohol Funds Advisory Committee in favor of the 9 member Community Support Funds Advisory Board (CSFAB) now tasked with fielding agency requests and allocating funds annually. Their vote was 6-3 to fund the True Colors request.

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Butler says the city specifically changed its process to be up front with how much money would be available, in this case, almost $2 million. The approach he said was largely to avoid the city commission being directly involved with how much to allocate to each specific agency.

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The CSFAB spent the better part of this past summer fielding requests for funding and ultimately voted last month on how much to allocate each organization. Their vote was 6-3 to fund $8,500 of True Colors’ $10,000 request, the same amount requested by the then newly established nonprofit last year, that was ultimately denied.

Mayor Mark Hatesohl supported Matta’s motion, citing that the city should not be involved in such a sharply divisive issue.

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Commissioner Linda Morse was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, but supported True Colors’ request last year, which also was denied.

The commission also voted unanimously to support over a half a million dollars in social services funding requests to 20 nonprofit organizations.

2. 2024 Special Alcohol Funding – Final Recommendations CC

1. 2024 Social Services Funding – Final Recommendations – CC

In other business Tuesday, the city commission unanimously approved a rezoning request for property at Claflin Road and Hylton Heights, where the Islamic Center of Manhattan is intending to construct a new community center.

Commissioner also unanimously approved amendments to the Manhattan Development Code and the first reading of an ordinance amending the 2023 city budget for five budgeted funds. The move has no impact to local property taxes, but rather is being done after revenues came in above projection.

The commission also opened a public hearing for amending the Aggieville Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Plan for Back 9 Development, but recessed it and continued the hearing to December 5, the city’s next legislative meeting, due to Commissioner Morse’s absence Tuesday and the legal need for four commissioners to act on any action regarding the amendment.

The commission will not hold a work session on Nov. 28 but City Manager Ron Fehr did note the need for a special agenda on December 12.

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