- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Two of the St. Mary’s County commissioners said this week they want to take another look at funding for noncounty agencies in the 2013 recommended budget. Two said they won’t make any changes. One said he would at least revisit the funding of a Lexington Park soup kitchen.
“We have heard the people,” Commission President Jack Russell (D) said after Tuesday’s public hearing on the proposed county budget. “We need to go revisit the noncounty agencies and take them back to 2012 funding. The fact may have been lost when we cut their funding, we’re cutting their leverage money” that can be used to match grants from other sources, he said.
The commissioners, at the behest of Commissioner Cindy Jones (R), plan in next year’s budget to reduce the current county contribution of $1.45 million to these groups by $108,898. The groups had requested almost $1.6 million for next year. The county’s recommended budget for next year is $211.4 million.
“I didn’t think we should have cut them in the first place,” Russell said of the budget work in March when funding for these groups was reduced.
“The message was loud and clear for the funding of noncounty agencies,” said Commissioner Todd Morgan (R). “There’s no reason to be cutting them. There’s so much good that comes out of them. You’re talking about such a small amount of money. We have a county that’s growing and we’re going to make a war over $100,000?”
Commissioner Dan Morris (R) said he was willing to revisit the request of St. Mary’s Caring, which operates a soup kitchen in Lexington Park. The group got $3,000 this year, requested $5,000, and was set to get $3,000 in the recommended budget. “I can’t see anybody going hungry in this country, period,” he said. The request was higher because of the higher cost of food.
Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R) said Thursday noncounty agencies should compete with one another for funding like companies do for business.
The groups that get county funding have been grandfathered in, while new requests are turned down. “For every one we’re funding, there’s four or five we’re not funding. Government does not need to be getting involved in picking winners and losers,” he said.
The groups that do get county funding, “basically they feel entitled to it,” he said.
So he will not be looking to restore noncounty agency funding. “If I’m the guy who has to say no, so be it,” he said.
Jones said she won’t be looking to change the funding levels, either.
“I’m very comfortable with the direction we’ve taken with the noncounty agencies,” she said Thursday morning.
However, Jones and Morris said they would try to get more funding for the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad, which is seeking to repair its facilities and replace ambulances.
That request is separate from the level of continuing funding for noncounty agencies.