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Agencies make pitches for funding assistance

With the deadline for the creation of Lincoln County’s fiscalyear 2009 budget approaching this fall, organizations andinstitutions of all measure are taking turns before the board ofsupervisors to request appropriations.

Based on last year’s records, County Administrator David Fieldssaid the county doles out an average of $2.5 million -approximately 18 percent of the more than $13 million budget – toabout 30 different organizations each year.

But the money is more an investment than expenditure, Fieldssaid. All of the organizations that receive funds for theiroperation are in some way connected to the county.

“Every place we help fund provides some type of service forLincoln County,” he said. “We help partially fund libraries,colleges and state departments – organizations that we or thepublic use.”

One of the biggest institutions used and partially funded byLincoln County is Copiah-Lincoln Community College, which saw 650of its 3,200-student enrollment originate from the county lastyear, said Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles.

In addition to educating the county’s college goers, Nettlessaid the school distributes $2.5 million in payroll each year tocounty residents.

Based primarily on predetermined millage rates, the countyprovides about $1.2 million to Co-Lin each year to help fund theschool’s approximately $24 million annual operating cost. Theappropriations are broken down into two funds – maintenance andimprovement.

Nettles said since the school’s appropriations are set bymillage rates, his visits to Lincoln and the six other primaryCo-Lin counties are more for reporting purposes than appropriationsrequests. Even so, the school’s board approved the request of asmall increase to help fund several campus improvements during the2008-09 school year.

“There’s a lot of activity on campus this year as far asinfrastructure improvement,” he said. “We’re installing newsidewalks; new roofs on some of the buildings this year and we willalso be buying new computers and other educational equipment.”

Another institution seeking increased funding from thesupervisors for the new fiscal year is King’s Daughters MedicalCenter.

KDMC Director of Emergency Services Terry Singleton said thehospital has received a $50,000 subsidy from the county for severalyears, but he hopes to secure additional money this year to helpoffset the cost of increased fuel prices and a new ambulance.

The hospital is anticipating the need for an additional $10,000for diesel fuel, Singleton said, and roughly $90,000 to replace anambulance.

In past years, the county’s appropriations to KDMC totaled$100,000 annually, Singleton said, but that amount has dwindled byhalf over the years. He pointed out that Lawrence Countycontributes almost $160,000 to its ambulance service, while AmiteCounty gives $200,000.

“We’re not asking for a specific number – we’re just asking thatyou keep us in mind,” Singleton said to the supervisors.

Aside from large institutions like schools and hospitals, alarge number of nonprofit organizations that rely on donations tooperate also request funds from the board.

Franklin County Coroner Percy Peeler, who chairs the Mid-SouthMississippi chapter of the American Red Cross, said hisorganization assisted 84 county residents through house fires lastyear to the tune of almost $10,000.

Peeler said the chapter requires around $30,000 each year tohelp families in Lincoln, Franklin, Lawrence and Pike counties.

“Without that support, we couldn’t offer assistance to thepeople who are in need,” he said. “It would just put us in abind.”

Peeler also did not ask for a specific amount of funding.

“I’d leave it up to the board’s discretion because they knowmore about how their money is,” he said. “Money is tight right now- everything has gone up, and when you service a family it makes itkind of hard.”

Other entities the county regularly funds include the SouthMississippi Children’s Center, Brookhaven Outreach Ministries, theDepartment of Human Services, Lincoln County Health Department andthe local National Guard post.

Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop said board considers all fundingrequests, but not all organizations would make the final cut.

“Certainly some of the requests can be funded and some of themcan’t,” he said. “It just depends on each individual request. Butthese organizations do very good work, very meaningful work for thecounty and the board considers all of them. The tax money goes toorganizations that turn around and benefit Lincoln County.”