County reduces charities’ money|Holiday meal program spared, but arts council loses $8,000

Published 9:36 pm Thursday, May 21, 2009

Staff Writer

Wednesday was a bad day to be a Beaufort County-funded charity.
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners cut contributions to some groups it funds as it worked through its proposed budget for the fiscal year set to begin in July.
One of the largest groups to see its funds cut was the Beaufort County Arts Council, which will go from $25,000 this year to $17,000 next year.
Commissioners Hood Richardson and Stan Deatherage fought the cut — because they thought it wasn’t enough.
“What money we do give them, they do a good job with,” said Deatherage. “There’s only one problem — we laid off 5 percent of our workforce this year.”
BHM Library saw its request pared to last year’s level, and a group of literacy volunteers saw its funding reduced by half, to $2,500.
Richardson had wanted to eliminate all of the group’s funding, because illegal immigrants are among those it teaches English, but Board Chairman Jay McRoy and Commissioners Ed Booth, Jerry Langley and Robert Cayton voted together to limit the reduction.
“I don’t believe in just taking the hammer and hitting everyone in the head,” said Board Vice Chairman Jerry Langley.
The commissioners also decided to cut the county’s contribution to the U.S. Highway 17 Association from $35,000 to $25,000.
Deatherage’s attempts to kill appropriations of $2,000 each for the Aurora Fossil Museum and the Belhaven Memorial Museum both failed.
The charities and other groups aren’t solely funded by the county, but rely on county money to varying degrees.
Richardson argued Wednesday that the county should eliminate its $2,500 contribution to the Washington Community Care Coalition — a group that gives food to the needy during holidays.
“How about planting a garden?” he asked.
He also attacked a county contribution of $1,000 to the Food Bank of the Albemarle in the same conversation. Neither suggestion was adopted by the board.
Later in the meeting, he said, “This whole town is eat up with charity.”
The board also decided to follow County Manager Paul Spruill’s request to deny all expansion items in the category.