Commission Roundup: Funding for Outreach Program Put on Hold

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A $61,000 grant to an outreach program for at-risk youth has been put on hold after Wake County Commissioners debated whether more information is needed.

Wake County has been funding Communities in Schools since 2004. The most recent grant would fund the position of senior director of outreach and learning. The grant would cover the position’s salary and benefits as well as travel and the cost to run background checks on organization volunteers.

A mostly volunteer organization, Communities for Schools runs mentoring and intervention programs, after-school activities and various other events throughout Wake County.

Travis Mitchell, Communities for Schools executive director, said the organization serves more than 6,000 Wake County students and acts as a safety net to keep kids from falling through the cracks.

Unlike some other non-profit organizations, Communities in Schools doesn’t compete for specific Wake County funds.

“There are some not for profits that have been receiving funds outside of the competitive process,” said County Manager David Cooke. He said Commissioners have pledged consistent funding to those organizations.

District 2 Commissioner Phil Matthews suggested holding off on a vote so that staff can look at groups that do similar work who could also benefit from funding.

“Do we need to look at all those and see — do we need to give all of our money to one particular group or do we need to pull a percentage out to give to other things?” he said.

District 5 Commissioner James West countered that if staff began investigating all non-profits that do similar work it would be a never-ending task. He suggested that Communities in Schools reach out to other organizations on its own to strengthen its work.

Chair Paul Coble suggested staff should research other similar non-profits that the county funds to find out how they stack up against Communities in Schools.  That prompted a procedural debate between him and commissioners Erv Portman and Betty Lou Ward.

“It is interesting to me that while we’re not involved in education we do spend a lot of money on education,” said Coble, saying the issue would be voted on at the next meeting.

Portman and Ward argued that Coble couldn’t refer something to staff and delay a vote without first calling for a vote from the full board.

After 15 minutes of debate, a vote to overrule Coble’s move to delay failed. Staff will bring the requested information to the next meeting on Feb. 20.

Health Services Merger Takes Next Step
Commissioners voted unanimously to create a new entity that would manage the county’s metal health services in conjunction with Durham County.

The approval of the unnamed business entity is the latest step in the Wake-Durham mental health marriage.

After the state Department of Health and Human Services rejected Wake’s request for it own mental health organization, it began a merger with the Durham Local Management Entity. The Durham LME will begin operations July 1.

The union creates a managed care organization—an HMO-like organization that will manage all local Medicaid funds for mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services for both Wake and Durham counties.

The next step will be appointing six Wake County representatives to the 16-member board.

Raleigh to Receive 911 Funds
The City of Raleigh will receive about $315,000 from Wake County for emergency services improvements.

In 2005, the City of Raleigh entered into a cost-sharing agreement with the county to handle emergency calls to the Raleigh/Wake Communications Center. This was done through a state-determined fee for each landline in the county, which was collected by phone companies and paid to the county.

But in 2007, the state general assembly consolidated the landline and cell phone fee system throughout the state and fees have since been collected and distributed at the state level.

Since then, about $630,000 in previously collected fees languished in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan budget.

Raleigh will use the money to fund renovations to the Emergency Communications Center and add public safety networking technology.

 

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