Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Final Show-Down on the Watauga County Budget

The Republican majority's budget passed 3-2 at this a.m.'s regular meeting of the Watauga County Commission, but not without last-ditch amendments offered by Democratic commissioners Jim Deal and Tim Futrelle. Both men expressed their deep disappointment at the way the majority are treating education in the county and the way that the important work of many non-profits was zeroed out, or severely reduced, in next year's county budget.

Mr. Deal, in particular, expressed unhappiness with the message being sent to the hundreds of volunteers who work to provide various county safety-nets through non-profit orgs -- all for a measly savings of $52,000. That isn't much in the overall county budget but means a great deal to the work of those agencies. Board Chair Nathan Miller responded with a succinct expression of his "vision": "My philosophy is to fund what government has to fund and nothing else. Non-profits need to go find their money elsewhere."

Mr. Deal addressed that difference in philosophy head-on, especially as regards the importance of education: "The economic vitality of our county is tied to our educated workforce." Deal and Futrelle tried without success to amend the budget to add another $595,000 to the school budget, to make up the expected shortfall from the state of NC.


Anonymous said...

I fear they are underestimating the state budget cuts.

Anonymous said...

The budget has been passed and is supposedly veto proof due to a bipartisan effort.

Beth said...

Jim Deal is one of the most insightful and intelligent people I have ever know. Watauga County ignores him at their peril.

Anonymous said...

What shortfall? The commissioners decided against holding the tax referendum they originally said they wanted because they were assured by Soucek and Jordan that there would be no shortfall.

Opinionated said...

Shortsighted....the non-profits take care of a number of services so county taxpayers don't have to shoulder the burden of EVERYthing.

I remember reading one study that showed effective homelessness prevention by a shelter like Hospitality House prevents an average of SEVEN incarcerations per person. Jailing somebody is a heck of a lot more expensive than giving HH the measly $15,000 a year they were getting from the County.