By Jesse Wood
Recommended county funding for 2015-16 to nonprofits in Watauga County is now known with the release of Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque’s recommended budget.
The general fund budget is $44,584,206, which is a 7.04 percent decrease over the current year’s budget, and includes $173,300 for nonprofits and other agencies in the county.
This represents $10,000 more than the current year’s allocation for special appropriations. Geouque bases the proposed allocations on previous year’s appropriations and guidance from the Watauga County Board of Commissioners.
This year’s proposed allocations that are different than in the past include $10,000 each to the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, which is restoring the old theatre on King Street, and the Hospitality House, which operates a homeless shelter and kitchen. Also, the Southern Appalachian Historical Association, which produces “Horn in the West” outdoor drama and the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, is slotted an additional $10,000 next year to bring its total potential allocation from the county to $22,000.
These additional appropriations are balanced with zero funding to the Blue Ridge Mediation – Drug Court, which received $20,000 for the current year
During the budget retreat in March, Commissioner Jimmy Hodges, a Republican who is chair of the board, seemed more affable to nonprofit funding than the prior chair, former Republican commissioner Nathan Miller, who said his philosophy didn’t “jive” with spending taxpayer money on nonprofits.
In previous years, the Democrat board members have voted for more funding to nonprofits than their Republican counterparts.
Hodges, for example, noted that it would be a “good-faith” move to the Town of Boone to give the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, which is restoring the old theatre on King Street, some funding. He also said he was OK with funding to SAHA and Hospitality House – the later of which hasn’t received a big fat zero while Miller chaired the board during his four-year term.
While these special appropriations that are recommended at $173,300 represent less than half of one percent of the entire budget, community members wearing pink come out to the budget public hearing in droves to make a pitch for their favorite nonprofits.
The commissioners will hold two budget work sessions on Monday and Tuesday, May 11 and 12, beginning at 4 p.m. both days, to comb the budget line item by line item.
The commissioners will also vote on each appropriation to the nonprofits and special agencies listed below.
Peruse the recommended budget on the county’s website.
See the entire list of recommended funding below.