More Nonprofits Seeking County Government Funding

SNOW HILL – County officials are facing increased funding requests from nonprofits and social service organizations as they work to balance the coming year’s budget.

During a work session Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners took an initial look at the budget requests made by local organizations. Though there are certain groups that receive funding from the county every year, the commissioners will have to make decisions on several new or previously unfunded requests this year.

As proposed, the “other social services” category of the county’s budget exhibits a 42 percent increase. The county provided $756,145 in funding to the listed social service groups last year. This year, most of those groups are seeking an increase in funding while there are also two new requests. Town Cats Inc. has requested $5,000 and the Worcester County Humane Society has requested $20,000.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said humane society officials had spoken to him about seeking funding earlier in the year.

“I told them to put the request in and see where it goes,” he said.

Commissioner Chip Bertino asked whether Town Cats had been involved in last year’s effort to save Oliver, a feral cat euthanized after testing positive for rabies. The commissioners were inundated with emails asking them to save Oliver’s life and Worcester County Animal Control officers reported threats and even an assault after the cat was euthanized. It was the Alley Cat Allies organization behind that effort.

Mitrecic said there were three active cat groups in northern Worcester County. He said Ocean City officials had offered to provide funding to the groups if they worked together.

“What Ocean City has done, they’ve said the three groups have to come together,” he said. “To this date they can’t come together.”

In addition to the two new requests, the commissioners are considering substantially increased funding requests from Atlantic General Hospital, the Maryland Food Bank, The Cricket Center and Salvation Army of the Lower Eastern Shore.

The hospital is seeking a 300 percent increase in funding. It received $75,000 last year but has asked for $300,000 this year in its ongoing capital campaign for a new a cancer center among other projects.

The Maryland Food Bank, which received $1,500 from Worcester County last year, has requested $10,000.

The Salvation Army is seeking $15,000 in funding for the coming fiscal year.

Other requests the county has received this year which were either not made or not funded last year include those from the Girdletree Foundation, the Lower Shore Land Trust, the MarVa Theatre and the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is seeking a $20,000 grant while the MarVa Theatre has asked for $35,000.

The Delmarva Discovery Center has requested $40,500 in funding for the coming year. While that represents a $4,500 decrease, commissioners pointed out they’d never intended to provide the facility with a grant every year.

“Each year they’ve said this is the last year they’re requesting money,” Bertino said.

The commissioners have just begun deliberating on the proposed $204 million FY 2018 budget. A public hearing on the document is set for May 2 while budget work sessions are set for May 9 and May 23.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.