Johnston County

Groups request county funding

Johnston County Arts Council Executive Director Darlene Williford asks county commissioners for funding.
Johnston County Arts Council Executive Director Darlene Williford asks county commissioners for funding. abennett@newsobserver.com

Three groups appealed to Johnston County Commissioners last week, asking for a piece of the county’s more than $200 million budget pie.

Those groups were the Johnston County Arts Council, Harbor Inc. and the Dr. Wade Atkinson Memorial Library and Community Center.

Arts Council Executive Director Darlene Williford asked commissioners for $5,000.

The council fosters the arts in Johnson, and most recently, the group painted murals in the new SECU Harbor House, a shelter for victims of rape and domestic violence. The beach murals are in a children’s play area.

The council takes part in “Art for Hope” a program to bring arts and crafts to cancer patients and their families. And it helps get local students’ art into galleries and holds events to promote the arts in school.

Harbor director Kay Johnson asked for $25,000 to help her agency meet its operating costs. Harbor provides aid, including shelter, to victims of rape and domestic violence.

Last year, Harbor served 3,200 people. Of those, 209 lived at the shelter, some for a month or longer. Harbor helped its clients obtain 700 protective orders, and its many support groups averaged 20 adults and 20 children per weekly meeting.

Harbor recently cut the ribbon on a $1.6 million shelter that has twice as many beds as its previous shelter.

Lawrence Philips, who serves on the board of the Dr. Wade Atkinson Memorial Library and Community Center, said the center needed money from the county.

Though the center is technically part of the county’s library system, it has not received any annual funding, Philips said.

The center needs renovations and has depended on fundraising, rentals and donations, about $3,200 to $4,400 per year, Philips said.

Commissioners thanked the groups for their time and their requests, but made no commitments. Commissioners closed the public hearing on their budget without further discussion.

Johnston County’s tax rate of 78 cents per $100 of assessed property value hasn’t changed for 13 years, and County Manager Rick Hester’s proposes to keep it unchanged.

Hester’s budget increases spending 3 percent, or $6 million over the current year, but it doesn’t fully fund a $63.2 million request from the county’s schools.

It will be up to commissioners on June 27 to decide whether to meet the requests of the schools and the groups that spoke last week.

Abbie Bennett: 919-553-7234, Ext. 101; @AbbieRBennett

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