Commissioners work on budget, weigh funding for outside agencies

by Eren Tataragasi

WAXHAW — As town commissioners continue to mull over their 2012-13 budget, they’re trying to decide how much money the town can afford to give to outside agencies.

Nonprofits like Turning Point and United Family Services have requested funding this year, as well as town organizations like the Beautification Committee and the Museum of the Waxhaws, to name a few.

Commissioners got a chance to hear from a few of these agencies Wednesday, June 20, during a goals meeting to take a final crack at next year’s budget.

Paul Fitzgerald spoke on behalf of the town’s Beautification Committee and said the organization is asking for double what it’s received in previous years to help bring art into downtown Waxhaw.

Fitzgerald said the Beautification Committee is working toward the creation of a community art plan “to help bring the community together for their ideas and input on the future of art and culture in Waxhaw.”

Fitzgerald said the plan would assist the town with grant applications, help make the placement or purchase of art easier and help maintain a balance of all forms of art.

That all sounded great to the town board, but the sticking point is the extra $10,000 the committee needs in order to hire a consultant to get the plan off the ground.

“If we don’t have the plan, we can’t get the grant, and the real reason we need this is so we can get the grant money so we can get art, because it’s a tough battle to get art with no money,” Fitzgerald said.

The Beautification Committee’s annual budget is usually around $10,000, so this request would make their total budget for 2012-13 $20,000 if approved by the board.

United Family Services representatives also have made several pitches to the town for $5,000 this year due to a lack of funding from the state.

Ashley Lantz, the victim services coordinator with United Family Services who manages the program for rape crisis as well as the Treehouse Children’s Advocacy Center, said the state usually provides the organization with $100,000 for the Treehouse center, but this year they were cut off completely.

“So we are doing our best. We know Union County is an awesome community and we can find a way to pull together and get that need met,” Lantz said. “We are also fortunate we’re not a standalone agency in Union County; we can get assistance from the Charlotte and Concord office. That helps.”

But the agency does serve about 274 Waxhaw residents each year, which is why the agency is seeking funds from the town.

Police Chief Michael Eiss said United Family Services was a vital partner in law enforcement and an agency worth supporting.

“They are a resource that is just unbelievable to us as a police department,” Eiss said. “Usually, when we’re dealing with them it’s not under pleasant circumstances, but they are an asset to law enforcement in this county and it would be a shame if they lost their funding. It would be devastating to residents and law enforcement and any way we can help promote them, through funding or other ideas, I know I would appreciate it.”

Turning Point, the only women’s domestic violence shelter in the county which often works hand-in-hand with United Family Services, also is asking for a little help this year.

The organization has requested $3,000 to help with the operating costs of the shelter, specifically food and utilities. The organization spends between $20,000 and $26,000 on food and utilities annually.

The Museum of the Waxhaws is asking for $12,720 this year for general support of the operation of the museum and its programs. A portion of that funding will help offset costs associated with maintaining and operating the physical facility, which also is used by the town board for its regular meetings.

Other agencies that have asked for funding include:
• Union County Community Arts Council, $2,500
• Waxhaw Women’s Club, $5,000
• Council on Aging in Union County, $1,500

For more information on the 2012-13 proposed town budget, visit www.waxhaw.com.

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