05/17/11 — Organizations ask for city funds

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Organizations ask for city funds

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on May 17, 2011 1:46 PM

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Dr. Clark Gaither, medical director of the WATCH Mobile Medical Unit, addresses Goldsboro City Council members about the proposed financial cut to the program from the city budget funding.

The Goldsboro City Council heard pleas Monday night from a number of agencies and organizations that expect to have their funding from the city reduced or eliminated in the 2011-12 proposed budget.

The council is considering severe cuts across the board, from the Red Cross to the Boys & Girls Club.

Al Grisette, president of the Arts Council of Wayne County, spoke on behalf of the organization, which had its annual appropriation completely cut from the city budget.

Grisette, and other members of the Arts Council executive committee, along with executive director, Sarah Merritt, presented a letter to council members, emphasizing the organization's need for the money, especially as it prepares to move downtown. Grisette said the city's previous annual appropriation of $25,000 accounts for 15 percent of the Arts Council's yearly operating budget.

The letter pointed out that the Arts Council's potential to bring more business downtown and its ability to help secure a grant that would put $200,000 into downtown businesses and buildings.

Arts supporters argued that proceeds from the sale of its current facility on the corner of Spence Avenue and Ash Street to the city should be considered separate from its annual appropriated funds, noting that not only did the Arts Council accept a 20 percent reduction in the sale price but that the city's previously canceled contract robbed the organization of time it could have been shopping the building around to other buyers.

Dr. Clark Gaither, representing the WATCH mobile medical program, spoke out about the organization's role in the community in providing medical care to those who do not qualify for government programs like Medicare. He said WATCH has provided about $3 million in services to patients, and that in addition to its recently opened stationary location at the Goldsboro YMCA, its mobile units travel across the county, with about half of the sites visited lying within the city limits.

The proposed budget completely cuts out the appropriation for WATCH. It also does away with money for the Boys & Girls Club, the American Red Cross, Waynesborough Park, Project Uplift and ends the city's participation in paying for a graduation coach for Goldsboro High School.

District 2 City Councilman Bob Waller said he was particularly impressed that 97 percent of WATCH patients considered the service their primary care provider and Mayor Al King called the organization "invaluable" and said the council would make every effort to come up with money for it.

"You run an outstanding program," King told Gaither. "We're going to do what we can, I promise you that. I don't know what that is."

Boys and Girls Club director Mary Ann Dudley and Lee Strickland of the state Historical Association also presented their cases for more money, joining representatives from Project Uplift and Waynesborough Park during the public hearing.

In other business, a dozen residents spoke out during a public hearing on Dale Benton's conditional use request for his trucking business on Cuyler Best Road between West New Hope Road and Oxford Boulevard. Four residents concerned with noise pollution spoke out against the request, while seven, including Benton's lawyer, spoke in support of the conditional use permit.