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Cuts to health, human services proposed

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

Faced with making “tough” budget decisions, a Pulaski County supervisor is proposing reducing or eliminating funding to three health and human services organizations during the 2013-14 fiscal year.

During budget discussions Monday night, Massie District Supervisor Andy McCready proposed a 10 percent reduction in the county’s contribution to Pulaski Senior Center and the possible elimination of any contributions to Goodwill Industries of the Valleys and Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia.

McCready questioned whether the county should consider a reduction in its contribution to the senior center in light of a recent proposal by Pulaski Vice Mayor Joseph Goodman that the town reduce the center’s budget by going to a part-time director and using volunteers to help maintain the center’s current hours of operation.

If the town is looking at cutting its costs with regards to the center, McCready said the county might want to consider reducing its $21,000 contribution by 10 percent. This is the first year the county has provided any funds to help operate the center.

Supervisors Chairman Joe Sheffey said the center sends a quarterly report to the county showing the amount of usage by citizens living outside the town limits. He said it seems usage by county citizens has been “pretty consistent.”

McCready said he was just wondering if it would benefit the county if the town implements some cost savings at the senior center, on Washington Avenue, across from Pulaski Post Office. He told County Administrator Pete Huber he would like to provide a “prorated amount” or adjust the contribution by “10 percent or so.”

As for Goodwill, McCready questioned why Pulaski County should consider providing $8,900 in funding to the agency in the coming year when most other localities do not provide any. Goodwill requested $10,000, but staff recommended a reduction.

Huber said Goodwill is basing the figure on service it provides to county citizens.

McCready pointed out Goodwill has contracts valued at over $1 million. He said transportation of workers used to be paid by the Community Services Board, so “I don’t want to be double paying them.”

Assistant County Administrator Robert Hiss said the Commission on Children and Family reviewed human services funding requests and Goodwill was the one agency for which the commission would support a funding reduction or elimination.

“They pretty much say the same thing,” Hiss said of the Commission.

Finance Director Diane Newby said Montgomery County is the only other jurisdiction that funds Goodwill in the current budget. Montgomery’s contribution is about $18,000, she added.

“But they’ve asked for Giles County, Floyd County and the City of Radford (to provide funding) for next year,” she added.

“With all of the needs we have in our school system and capital program, I’m really having trouble with (funding) that one,” said McCready. He said he recommends cutting funding completely.

Rather than making a decision Monday night, Sheffey asked Huber to contact other jurisdictions to find out why they are not contributing to Goodwill.

Huber said he will also asked Goodwill officials what impact elimination of funds would have on the program.

McCready said Goodwill should be able to equate the funds to some county residents and “if they can’t, we shouldn’t be funding it.”

Huber said they have been able to point to citizens they were serving in the past.

The board agreed to allow staff to research the matter further before a decision is made.

McCready also suggested the supervisors consider reducing or eliminating funding for Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia that former Pulaski County residents Greg and Fran Rooker started as a result of a brain injury their son suffered.

Huber said the Rookers have grown the program over the years generating significant private funding as compared to public funding. He said the county funded $5,000 for the agency during the first few years in hopes other localities would start paying their share.

The proposed contribution has been reduced to $4,140 for the coming year.

Newby said Montgomery, Floyd and Radford have kicked in funds in the amounts of $800, $1,250 and $2,500 respectively. Hiss said the agency serves 11 Pulaski County clients.

Hiss said one of the considerations staff gave to agencies requesting funds was the amount of private fundraising they do compared to relying on government funding. He said he feels the more a nonprofit is soliciting private money rather than relying on government funding shows greater ownership and responsibility for their program.

However, McCready asked why Pulaski County is giving so much more than surrounding localities, particularly since some of them have a higher population.

Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt said client load was the basis for funding in the past, but he isn’t sure how it is determined now.

Newby said the agency serves 13 clients from Montgomery County, 11 from Pulaski County, two from Giles County, one from Floyd County and six from Radford. She said the agency originally requested more funds from all of the localities and Pulaski County was initially the only locality providing funds.

Sheffey said it’s a good organization.

“We can always revisit what our fair share is,” Hiss suggested.

Pratt said it “might be a good idea” to do so.

McCready said he thinks the contribution needs to be reduced. He suggested staff evaluate the situation and determine what would be the appropriate amount of funding.

“We have a lot of tough decisions to make, so we have to look at every item,” McCready said.

 

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