Department head pitches budget requests at board

Published 1:30 am Wednesday, May 28, 2008

By Staff
Options executive asks for $158,000 for shelter
Staff Writer
Beaufort County may soon have a homeless shelter for women and children, if the county’s Board of Commissioners sees fit to fund it.
That shelter would cost the county a one-time sum of $158,000, Lee Anne Hanson-Niver, executive director of Options to Domestic Violence, told commissioners Tuesday night. Options, a Washington-based battered women’s shelter, would oversee the homeless shelter.
State and federal funds will kick in to fund the shelter after local commitments are proven through first-year funding, she said. With the nearest homeless shelter for women in Pitt County and the next-nearest in Elizabeth City, she said there is a necessity for a place in Beaufort County where women — usually in their 20s and 30s — and their children can find shelter between homes.
Sandy Fenn, executive director of the Beaufort County chapter of the American Red Cross, also went before the board during its public hearing Tuesday on the 2008-2009 county budget. She said the Red Cross responded to 21 fires since May 2007, including wildfires that broke out in several areas of the county and a fire that claimed a Pamlico Plantation home. The Red Cross assisted 53 Beaufort County residents during those responses, she said. The total cost of the chapter’s disaster response in the past year came to $8,499, most of which was raised through fundraisers, she said.
Fenn is also coordinating training employees of the county’s Department of Social Services in sheltering techniques in case of a hurricane or other natural disaster, she said. The Red Cross has opened shelters during every major weather event that has struck Beaufort County, including Hurricane Isabel and Hurricane Floyd, Fenn said. The cost of the training is about $100 per trainee, for a total of about $12,500 spent last year, she said.
Washington City Manager James C. Smith recounted for the board several joint ventures the county has agreed to embark upon with the city. He stepped out of Tuesday’s Washington City Council meeting to request that commissioners dip into county coffers to cover the final expenses on some of those projects.
The first Smith mentioned was $23,000 in “final improvements” needed at the Patrick Cochran Memorial Skatepark, a project for which both the city and county have provided funding. Smith asked that the county contribute $10,000 toward that final price tag which would pay for sidewalking around the park, some benches and landscaping, he said.
Smith asked for another $10,000 for final improvements at Beebe Memorial Park in Washington. That sum would cover the construction of a memorial shelter under which events could be held. It would also cover the relocation and restoration of headstones remaining from the traditionally black cemetery that once stood at the park.
Smith also asked that the county pick up the tab for increases in construction costs associated with replacing the failing roof over BHM Memorial Library. The original estimated cost of the project came in at $70,000 but has risen to $110,000 because of increased materials costs, he said.
Catherine Glover, executive director of the Washington/Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, along with Chamber board Chairman Tom Atkins, made a plea to the county to become a Chamber member. Based on the number of county employees, membership dues would come to $4,650 per year — the same sum the City of Washington pays annually for its Chamber membership.
The Board of Commissioners are scheduled to hold a public hearing on a proposed tax not to exceed $.05 per $100 valuation for EMS services in the Long Acre township at its meeting June 2. It will again meet June 4 at 8 a.m. to consider the county’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.