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.