Budget funds agencies

Published 8:19 pm Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some get more, others get less under proposal

Washington’s proposed budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which begins July 1, allocates a combined $77,295 for outside agencies such as the Beaufort County Arts Council and Purpose of God Annex Outreach.

Of that amount, the proposed budget allocates $25,000 to the Purpose of God Annex Outreach, which has seen some of its funding reduced in recent months. The current city budget allocates $1,600 to the organization.

One of the organization’s programs, Project New Hope, has drawn wide praise for its work with at-risk adults.

In January, Bishop Samuel Jones Jr., a co-founder of the organization, appeared before the City Council and requested $50,000 to help fund Project New Hope. The program, in part, works with area businesses to find employment for people who have run afoul of the law. Jones and others working with him monitor program participants at their jobs to ensure they are succeeding. After six months, program participants graduate if they meet all requirements imposed on them.

Although Jones would be happier with $50,000 from the city, he will take what the city gives.

“I’m just appreciative of the fact they gave us consideration,” Jones said Friday. “I didn’t go into this thing blindfolded. I knew that they had a financial downfall — financial cutbacks they needed to make with the city employees and other entities associated with the city’s budget. I’m just happy that we were considered. I am going to do the best we can to make the best of it and make sure they understand they will be getting their money’s worth back out of what we do with it. I feel like they didn’t have to give us anything. So, I’ve been told you never look a gift horse in the mouth. In a sense, it’s not a gift because we work hard to make sure that whatever somebody gives us that we prove we’re going to put the money to good use.”

During his presentation in January, Jones presented documents showing Project New Hope’s tentative budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 at $163,644.54. Of that amount, $110,240 is budgeted for staff salaries, with $12,424.04 budgeted for fringe benefits for staff.

Of the $50,000 requested from the city, $37,440 was earmarked for staff salaries and $4,219.49 earmarked for fringe benefits for staff members. The request seeks $8,000 for occupancy costs, defined as funds to pay for two classrooms, a computer lab and office space with Internet, telephone service and utilities.

Project New Hope’s proposed budget allocates $12,531 for participant training, with $10,200 allocated for work experience, which is defined as going “toward wages (at $8.50 per hour for 40 hours a week for six weeks) to give the employers an opportunity to see how well the participants work. Used as an employer’s incentive.” The proposed budget includes $5,000 for “other participant services” that include photo identification cards, drug testing, criminal background checks, tools and materials required for employment.

Councilman Bobby Roberson expects funding for outside agencies to receive close scrutiny during the council’s upcoming budget deliberations.

“I think, in my opinion, they’re going to look at it very seriously because we have limited resources, number one. … One of the things I think the city has to look at is it puts us in a very difficult position of deciding which nonprofits to choose from. Quite frankly, I think we need to stick with the legislative standards that say, basically, what our responsibility is,” Roberson said Thursday. “Last year, I did make a proposal, which wasn’t accepted. I’m going to make that proposal again this year, and that is I think what we need to do with those nonprofit agencies that we fund is to give them a five-year time frame and say at the end of the fifth year that we’d be out of the funding business for nonprofit agencies.”

Roberson said he doesn’t want to immediately stop providing funding to those agencies. He prefers weaning them from city funds over a period of time so they can plan for not receiving city funds in the future.

Roberson said the agencies, at least some of them, likely will see their allocations in the proposed budget reduced by the council as it puts together a final budget.

City Manager Josh Kay’s proposed budget reflects what the council told him it was looking for in regard to allocations for outside agencies, Roberson said.

Roberson noted that federal funding sources for Project New Hope, adding that’s one reason the program is proposed to receive a boost in city funds.

“There’s no question (Jones) is doing a good job for the community, but can we afford to do it?” Roberson asked. “Employment is one thing you need, and I think he meets a special need. In addition to that, our money’s tight.”

Roberson said agencies such as Eagle’s Wings and the Washington Community Care Coalition that help the community’s less-fortunate residents should be given a higher priority than other outside agencies when it comes to receiving city funds.

Under Kay’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the Beaufort County Arts Council would receive $13,000, plus $3,000 for BCAC HeART of the City concerts. The current city budget allocates $16,975 to BCAC, plus $4,965 for HeART of the City concerts.

The Beaufort County Boys & Girls Club has been allocated $16,000 in the proposed budget, down from $19,735 allocated in the current city budget.

Other agencies proposed to receive funding include:

  • Zion Shelter, $5,000, down from $9,385 in the current city budget.
  • Wright Flight, $3,500, down from $3,795 in the current city budget.
  • East Carolina Wildfowl Guild, $7,045, down from $7,902 in the current city budget.
  • The Blind Center, $1,000, down from $2,500 in the current city budget.
  • Kiwanis’ Christmas parade, $1,500, down from $1,970 in the current city budget.
  • Eagle’s Wings, $1,000, which received no city funds for this fiscal year.
  • Human Relations Council, $1,000, up from $500 in the current city budget.
  • Washington Community Care Coalition, $250, down from $500 in current city budget.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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