Agencies plead their case for city funding

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The city’s proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year cuts contributions to community organizations in half, compared with the current year’s budget.

“This council has an amazing philanthropic bend about where we fund outside agencies tremendously,” said City Manager June Fleming. However, this year’s budget demanded drastic cuts.

“This is not the time to cut a penny here, a penny there…we really had to make some changes,” she said.

Currently the city’s contributions to organizations like Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater, the Western Tidewater Free Clinic and the Rawls Museum Arts and other agencies total about $51,500.

Next year’s proposed budget cuts that funding to $24,000. The different agencies had requested a total of more than $97,000.

“The ironic thing is that almost every agency that requested funds from us said that times are hard, we know the resources are short, but our clientele is growing and we need more money,” Fleming said.

Representatives from Smart Beginnings, the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, the Boys and Girls Club, the Endependence Center for residents with disabilities and Fifth District Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children program all spoke before the City Council Monday night.

“Your support for high-quality childhood development is critical to the establishment of a competitive and future-ready workforce,” said Randy Betz, speaking on behalf of Smart Beginnings.

Fleming said Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc.’s decision to cut its funding request by $50,000 was a positive, especially for the Blackwater Regional Library. The library system is requesting $244,323 from the city next year, a reduction of nearly 5 percent from this year.

“I have to admit to you that if that had not occurred, we would not be able to fund the Blackwater Library System’s budget request,” she said. “I was prepared to cut that request by 50,000.”