Make the case: Council gets tough on outside agencies seeking city funding

Published 7:10 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Outside agencies — such as the Boys & Girls Club, Zion Shelter and Kitchen and Eagle’s Wings — will have to make their cases for city money before the City Council before they will be considered for city dollars in the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget.

That decision was reached by the Washington City Council during its meeting Monday. The council also plans to make it clear to the outside agencies that they will be starting from “zero” when it comes to being assured of receiving city dollars.

“We’re starting the budget process, and you’ve had confusion about outside agencies. There was one at one time that said they had never received notification from the city about the probability of being cut. I’m just saying we need to open up the process about how we’re going to handle outside agencies. We need to review the numbers that we fund, the allocations and what kind of reporting data they we need from the agencies about how the money was spent how the taxpayers’ dollars are being spent,” Councilman Bobby Roberson said.

“I concur with Councilman Roberson,” said Councilman Doug Mercer. “We have said for several years that we are putting these agencies on notice that maybe they’ll have to address their requests to the council each year.”

Mercer said the agencies should understand each year that their “funding will be based upon their presentations and the availability of monies in the upcoming budget.”

Roberson is ready to meet with the agencies.

“I’m for a special called meeting. Let’s get them in here. Let’s get going,” he said.

In recent years, the council has reduced funding to entities such as the Beaufort County Arts Council and Eagle’s Wings (a local food pantry that serves the poor). In the spring of 2013, the council served notice that future city budgets could reduce funding — if not eliminate funding — for some or all of the nonprofits it has traditionally funded in recent years.

Outside agencies, such as the Zion Shelter and Kitchen, that meet certain needs not met or partially met by other entities would stand a better chance of receiving city money than agencies that don’t meet those needs or duplicate services provided by other entities, according to some council members.

Some council members have talked about cutting funding for some outside agencies by 50 percent or eliminating funding altogether, while others have suggested a series of 10-percent cuts until an agency receives no funding from the city. The series of cuts would allow the agencies time to seek alternative funding to replace the funding once provided by the city, supporters of the series of cuts contend.

Council members have also said they would like a detailed explanation of how an agency plans to use any money it receives from the city.


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.

email author More by Mike