Saline Substance Abuse Coalition Seeks Independence From City

 06/02/2016 - 11:18

Eight members of the substance abuse coalition came together for the May meeting.

Bureaucracy is a necessary part of government but it can also be a frustrating impediment to getting useful work done. On Thursday the Saline Community Substance Abuse Coalition (SCSAC) received a lesson on their limitations and more legal hoops to jump through in order to reduce them.

The guest speaker was Nicholas Curcio of Dickinson Wright PLLC.  He was called in to talk to the group about how they needed to restructure so that they could hire a coordinator.

The existing group exists under the umbrella of the city. As such they cannot have their own budget and cannot hire employees independently of the city.

However, as Curcio explained, there are several ways to remedy this. They could partner with another city under the Municipal Partnership Act, they could reestablish themselves as a non-profit corporation or they could operate under the umbrella of an existing non-profit with related goals.

The sentiment of the group seemed to be to form their own non-profit, although they may need to work under the auspices of another non-profit such as the Coalition for a Quality Community (CQC) on an interim basis.

To form a non-profit, they will first need the blessing of City Council, then they need to prepare and submit articles of incorporation. The next steps would be to write bylaws and then apply for 501c3 (tax-exempt) status.

To create the SCSAC as a non-profit, City Council will draft and approve articles of incorporation and Dickinson Wright will draft preliminary bylaws. The city can also expedite the filing for 501c3 status.

The process of becoming an official non-profit corporation can be completed in a few weeks, but approval for 501c3 status could take up to six months. In the meantime, the group can continue to function, but will be limited in its ability to raise funds until tax-exempt status is obtained.

Curcio also spoke about legal requirements for the group to apply for a Drug Free Community (DFC) Grant. It will require the group having 12 community sectors represented in the coalition, including: youth, parents, business, the media, schools, organizations serving youth, law enforcement, religious or fraternal organizations, civic or volunteer groups, a health care professional and agencies with experiences in the field of substance abuse.

This is not a new concept to the group, since former advisor April Demers used to emphasize the importance of including these sectors and at one time most were represented.

Mayor Brian Marl made the point that even though this group may not be able to qualify for a DFC grant, it would still be beneficial to to bring in the broad range of expertise suggested by the organization.  

The group discussed the basic composition of the corporation. What will its name be? How many on the board? How many officers? When will it meet?

Tentatively the reorganized group will meet on every fourth Thursday, the first being June 23. In actuality, it will still be the old group on June 23, but it should be the new group by the July meeting.

It will still be called the Saline Community Substance Abuse Coalition. Janet Dillon will begin to advertise for the coordinator position in August.

Robert Conradi
Bob Conradi Is a retired pharmaceutical scientist who has redefined himself as a photographer and journalist. He has lived in Michigan for 36 years and in the Saline area for 10. He enjoys researching and learning about new ideas. Follow him on Twitter at @RobertConradi.