Groups Lobby County Board for Funding
Posted June 7, 2016
By Olivia Neeley, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer
Representatives of several agencies stood before Wilson County commissioners and pleaded their case for funding in the upcoming budget year during Tuesday night’s public hearing.
A majority of those who spoke were community leaders requesting an increase in funding to enable them to continue what they say is vital work within Wilson County. Some thanked commissioners for what they had given the groups in the past. There were also first-time requests.
More than two-dozen agencies requested roughly $1.6 million combined from the county for fiscal year 2016-17. County Manager Denise Stinagle has recommended a total of roughly $1.2 million in funding for nonprofits and outside agencies, a decrease of about $95,000 from 2015-16. County commissioners asked Stinagle last year to begin decreasing funds to outside agencies.
Commissioners must pass a budget by the end of the month.
FLYNN CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP HOME
Scott Strother, who is over Flynn Christian Fellowship Home, told commissioners his staff has been working for a year and half on renovations at the organization’s Goldsboro Street home. Those renovations were made possible due to a federal grant Flynn received with the help of the city.
The nonprofit and halfway house for men requested $12,000 this year in funding. Next year’s budget suggests $3,750 for Flynn, which is the same amount it received this fiscal year.
Strother said Flynn needs the increased funding to furnish several bedrooms in the home. He said BB&T’s Lighthouse project helped recently furnish one bedroom and a sitting room, which the group home is grateful for.
The six-bedroom home is able to house 12 men at a time.
OIC OF WILSON
Howard Jones, president and founder of Opportunities Industrialization Center of Wilson, said his organization places about 150 people in jobs each year, in addition to health programs and the all-volunteer feeding program the OIC conducts quarterly. Thousands are helped during those food distributions.
“I’m here because I know we are also concerned about the condition,” Jones said, referring to poverty and unemployment rates. The OIC works to grab folks who are in poverty, educate and train them and place them in jobs with its collaborative efforts among area industries. He said he knows how hard it is for commissioners to make decisions such as these, but hopes they will consider an increase. The OIC asked for $175,000 for this upcoming fiscal year. The proposed budget suggests an allocation of $71,250, down from $100,000 from the current amended budget.
Levolyre Pitt, retired teacher and founder of Dee’s House, a pre-K program in Wilson, told the story about the nonprofit that provides education to children at no cost.
“We get them ready for kindergarten,” Pitt told commissioners. She said there is only one school in Wilson County with a pre-K program. Many children are put on a waiting list and end up falling behind others once they begin kindergarten. Dee’s House is in its sixth year providing that pre-K education to children, who leave the program knowing how to read, write and “how to act,” she said.
The nonprofit has been able to run by pooling its own money with various community donations. Pitt told commissioners she didn’t even know the program could ask for money from them. And Dee’s House is in desperate need of getting full-time teachers. It had initially requested $150,000.
“We do need some support,” she said. While Dee’s House wasn’t in Stinagle’s recommended budget, commissioners who make up the nonprofit committee discussed a couple of weeks ago giving the organization a one-time $1,000 allotment.
Other Dee’s House supporters also spoke at the public hearing, including Pitt’s daughter and executive director Yolanda Davis, a mother whose child graduated from the program in its first year five years ago and an active member of the PTO in Wilson County Schools.
Wes Berry, treasurer of Wilson 20/20, asked for an increase in funding for the nonprofit, which is a collaborative initiative between city and county government, as well as schools, businesses, colleges and churches, to create change within the community..
The group requested $36,000 from the county. The upcoming fiscal year budget suggests it receive $18,000, the same amount for this year’s amended budget.
Berry said Wilson 20/20 members were grateful to commissioners for what they have done in the past several years with funding and believe the county has become an integral partner in the group’s work. He said members have been transitioning from vision to action and that’s where the increase in funding from the county could help.
Wilson 20/20 receives donations from businesses and others, as well as grants. Berry said the funding from the county goes toward the group’s operations.
The Rev. Linda Walling, executive director of Hope Station, told commissioners the floor inside the men’s shelter is in desperate need of replacement.
“The carpet can’t be adequately cleaned,” she said. Walling said in its 27 years of service to the community, Hope Station has operated without county dollars until 2014 when it began requesting funds. She said Hope Station staff continue to see an increase in costs to operate the men’s shelter. She said she would not be before commissioners if the flooring replacement was not needed.
Walling pointed out the shelter is a regular point of referrals from the Wilson County Department of Social Services and is the only no-fee shelter for men.
A man who once lived at Hope Station before he was able to get on his feet and get a home also spoke on behalf of the organization and the need.
Hope Station board member A. J. Walston, who oversees the shelter’s financials, said he has looked at its budget and the shelter can’t find any other way to fund the flooring issue.
The nonprofit requested $12,000 for this upcoming year. The proposed budget suggests $3,750, the same amount it received this fiscal year.
ARTS COUNCIL OF WILSON
Barry Page, executive director of the Arts Council of Wilson, said he believes in the cultural arts. And noted that the organization provides many programs to county residents.
The arts council requested $55,000 from next year’s county budget. The proposed budget has the council at $32,500, the same amount it received last year.
Page said there is a need for cultural arts and cultural education. He thanked the commissioners for their continued support.
Nothing is set in stone yet and commissioners can decide if they will move funding around to outside agencies or approve the allocations as recommended by the county manager.
Commissioners recessed Tuesday and will reconvene again at 7 p.m. Monday, June 13, at the Miller Road county administration building.