Original estimates projected the staff would be cut to 10.

PORTLAND (AP) – AmeriCorps will shrink its Maine volunteer corps from 165 to 66 next year and cut several programs entirely, officials announced Monday.

The cutbacks are the result of decreased federal funding brought on by the financial problems of AmeriCorps’ parent agency. Maine will have $616,000 for its AmeriCorps allotment next year, down from $1.54 million this year.

Paula Gagnon, vice chairman of the Maine Commission for Community Service, which makes AmeriCorps grants and administers the program, said the cuts will be painful. But they are better than earlier projections that showed the number of volunteers would fall to 10, rather than 66.

“That would have just been absolutely a disaster,” she said. “So this is better than that.”

AmeriCorps serves scores of nonprofit organizations across the state. Between 1998 and 2002 AmeriCorps recruited more than 28,000 Maine citizens as volunteers and raised more than $13 million.

AmeriCorps members serve either full- or part-time over a 10- to 12-month period. Their service projects include tutoring and mentoring youth, building affordable housing, cleaning parks and streams, running after-school programs, and helping communities respond to disasters.

But the Corporation for National and Community Service, the parent agency of AmeriCorps, has come under scrutiny in recent years for accounting and management problems.

State officials announced the cutbacks Monday because projects run on a Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 schedule.

“We needed to finally answer the question of what was the impact on Maine of the funding issues that have been part of that really public discussion for the last seven months,” said Maryalice Crofton, the commission’s director.

“One of the things that the commission looked really hard at, given that we’re taking such a hard hit, is to try and spread the resources we do have across the state – not to thin them out, but to put them strategically in places where they may be able to get some ancillary activity.”

AP-ES-08-26-03 0216EDT

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