City cuts funding for outside agencies by 20 percent

Published 4:30 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Outside agencies and economic-development groups that receive money from the City of Washington will see those allocations reduced by 20 percent in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

After debating several proposals regarding that funding, from eliminating it to keeping it at its current level, the City Council voted 3-2 to reduce that funding across the board by one-fifth. Council members Doug Mercer, Richard Brooks and Larry Beeman voted for the 20-percent cut, with council members William Pitt and Virginia Finnerty voting against that reduction. Finnerty advocated for determining an organization’s funding on a case-by-case basis.

The council also instructed City Manager Bobby Roberson to notify the outside agencies and economic-development groups by letter that the city will re-evaluate its appropriations for them in the 2018-2019 budget. In recent years, the city has told the organizations their funding could be reduced, if not eliminated, as the council put together the city’s budgets during those years.

Mercer questioned why Cornerstone Community Learning Center continues to receive funding when several years ago it asked for a one-time allocation from the city to get the center up and running. The center received $8,100 this fiscal year from the city. It is requesting $9,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.

With the city facing a $300,000 loss of revenue in the upcoming budget because Beaufort County will not be paying the city to provide EMS coverage in parts of Washington Township, Mercer said, it behooves the city to take a close look at the allocations it makes to the outside agencies and economic-development groups it funds.

Finnerty made it clear she believes that substantial reductions or elimination of the funds could lead to some of the organizations going under. Without support from the city, those organizations could lose funding from other sources that require the organizations to receive money from the city, she said.

“We cannot back out totally. … We cannot cut them off, period,” Finnerty said.

Under the 20-percent reduction, the Beaufort County Boys & Girls Club receives $10,368 for the next fiscal year, Zion Shelter and Kitchen receives $6,120, Wright Flight gets $2,268, The Blind Center receives $809.60, Eagle’s Wings gets $648, Purpose of God Annex Outreach Center is allocated $12,960 and Cornerstone Community Learning Center receives $6,480. Open Door Community Center (a new agency being funded for the first time) receives $8,000. It requested a one-time contribution of $10,000 to get its shelter for homeless women and children up and running.

As for the economic-development groups, the Washington Harbor District Alliance gets $40,176, the Highway 17 Association receives $5,400, the North Carolina Estuarium gets $12,960, Arts of the Pamlico receives $10,368 and the city’s Christmas parade (organized by the Washington Kiwanis) gets $972.

For this fiscal year, the organizations (not including Open Door Community Center) received a combined $144,712. With the 20-percent reduction, that amount falls to $115,769.60, not including the $8,000 for Open Door Community.

City staff presented five options regarding outside agency funding for the council to consider. Those options were:

  • fund at the same amounts in the current fiscal year;
  • reduce their current amounts by 10 percent;
  • reduce their current amounts by 50 percent;
  • not fund any outside agency or economic-development group;
  • funding specified agencies, with the council determining how much those agencies would receive.


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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