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Commissioners cut nonprofit funding

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
County commissioners said Monday that they plan to stop funding three nonprofit organizations and give less money to most others in next year’s budget.
At the February budget workshop of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, County Manager Gary Page recommended cutting funding to all nonprofit groups by 10 percent.
Commissioner Carl Ford said at the board’s meeting Monday that he had been considering cuts of 15 percent to 20 percent to all nonprofits.
“I found out that there are some of these we cannot cut at all, but there are some we could cut out,” Ford said.
Ford made a motion to completely remove funding to the Rowan Arts Council ($22,991), Rowan Museum Inc. ($19,000) and the Salisbury-Rowan Human Relations Council ($3,500).
He later amended his motion to reduce appropriations for the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce appropriation from $4,000 to $2,500 and by 10 percent for all groups that can be cut.
The county can’t take away funding to the Cabarrus-Rowan MPO, Iredell Soil and Water (Third Creek Watershed), N.C. Forest Service, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center and the Yadkin-Pee Dee Lakes Project.
The county currently funds 18 nonprofit groups. The proposed changes would reduce the amount spent on nonprofits by about $129,000 to a total of $949,000.
Commissioner Jim Sides seconded the motion with the exception of Rowan Vocational Opportunities Inc. It passed 4-1, with Commissioner Raymond Coltrain dissenting.
Coltrain said he didn’t think the board could make an informed decision before getting more information from the county manager about next year’s budget.
“I certainly cannot agree with cutting these three out totally,” Coltrain said. “We have to cut back some, but it should be shared equally.”
Chairman Chad Mitchell responded that votes affecting the fiscal year 2011-12 budget are not final until the budget is approved.
“It does give these groups some indication of what we may be thinking, instead of surprising them on June 15 and removing the appropriations,” Mitchell said.
Giving groups direction now is a good thing, Commissioner Jon Barber said, but there might be some that can’t afford to lose county money when donations and grants also are going down.
Sides pointed out that the county is reducing funding to all of its other departments this year by a total of $2 million.
“The county itself has made cuts for the past three years,” Sides said. “We’ve asked none of the nonprofits to do that.”
Commissioner Carl Ford agreed, saying the county put this off as long as it could.
“We’re trying to be as fair as we can be,” Ford said, “and ask everybody to help us out in these tough times.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

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