The Board of Commissioners approved a $54.9 million operations budget for 2011 by a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner JaNice Van Ness voting against, after a four hour meeting on Tuesday morning and much discussion of funding of outside agencies and nonprofits.
The board took up the funding for nonprofits and outside agencies in a separate vote than the rest of the budget. The amount originally proposed for nonprofits totalled about $2.1 million. After cuts to five groups, a slight increase for one group, and deferring the funding decision for one group until the next board meeting, the new proposed amount totalled about $2 million.
Commissioner Oz Nesbitt abstained from voting on funding any of the nonprofit agencies.
The most adamant discussion between Chairman Richard Oden and VanNess centered around funding for Rockdale Cares and Ceek-2-Fulfill.
The decision on Ceek-2-Fulfill, which provides development programs for teens and aging-out foster kids and made its first funding request to the county this year, was eventually deferred until the board's next meeting, in 2011, after the two commissioners could not agree on the level of funding. Without a proposed amount, the line item would die and the group would recieve no funding. The amount originally granted in the budget was about $49,000. VanNess proposed funding it at $5,000, since this was the first year it had requested funds. Oden proposed reducing it to $25,000. VanNess requested more detailed documents and budgets from the group.
Rockdale Cares, which provides education and training for the developmentally disabled, had its funding cut by $25,000 to become $25,000, or $5,000 more than its 2010 level. VanNess proposed cutting funding back to its 2010 level of $20,000. "This time I prefer to be conservative," she said. "I just don't think we have the money to give to agencies."
The CE Steel Community Center was the only group that received an additional amount of $1,500 to become $2,500, which is below its 2010 level of $4,500.
Funding for the Court Appointed Special Advocates for children went down by $2,800 to match the 2010 funding level of $27,200.
The Arts Council funding went down by $5,000 to $35,000, which was below its 2010 level of $40,000.
Project ReNeWal domestic violence shelter and programs had its funding cut by $30,000 to become $20,000 or half its 2010 level; VanNess pointed out the shelter served residents from three counties - Rockdale, Newton and Walton, but Rockdale was the only county to provide funds to the shelter. The commissioners noted the appointment of the new District Attorney in the Newton-Walton circuit and the possibility of funding from court fees.
Rockdale Emergency Relief's funding went down by $6,000 to become $10,000 which matched its 2010 funding level. Oden noted that RER had recently received significant grant funding and VanNess recalled RER's director Ashley Roessler had asked that funding be given to other agencies if needed.
The board had also entered into an hour-long executive session to discuss personnel at the beginning of the meeting.
(Dec. 13, 2010, 2:43 p.m.) After a four hour meeting Tuesday morning and much discussion on reducing funding to outside agencies and nonprofits, the BOC passed a $54,956,290 general fund operations budget for 2011.
That figure does not include the proposed funding for Ceek-2-Fulfill, a relatively new non-profit organization. The committee postponed the decision on the non-profit's funding until their first meeting of 2011.
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