Last updated: March 27. 2014 7:06PM - 668 Views
By - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com



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Two of the four outside agencies that receive funding from the city of Mount Airy are requesting increases for the next fiscal year beginning in July.


The four include the Surry Arts Council, Mount Airy Rescue Squad, Mount Airy Public Library and Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. They receive some financial help from the municipality annually because of the key services they supply, including enhancing tourism.


They were tapped for total allocations of $205,150 for 2013-2014.


While the arts council and library are seeking 2014-2015 funding at the same levels as this year, the rescue squad and museum are asking for more. The funding requests for each, which supplement the agencies’ regular budgets, were formally presented Thursday afternoon to the city Finance Committee, made up of commissioners Jon Cawley and Steve Yokeley.


For the rescue squad, it’s a deja vu situation. In 2013, the volunteer organization — which provides traffic-control and other services for festivals and additional public events along with its regular emergency operations — sought an increase in city funding to $22,500, up from $5,000 received the year before.


However, the city commissioners ended up granting $5,000, and once again the squad is seeking the $22,500 appropriation.


The higher request is sought to help offset what the squad leadership says is a “drastic” rise in fuel costs, and an expected drop in community donations due to the ongoing sluggish economy.


City funding also is used to acquire equipment needed to assist accident and other victims and provide medical care to persons in need, according to a squad official.


“Funding by the city of Mount Airy is necessary to fulfill our budget needs,” says a memo from squad Chief Chad Hutchens accompanying the request.


“With the increase in inflation and daily cost of operating, we must have additional support from the municipality to continue to provide a service that the city of Mount Airy cannot afford to provide for their citizens.”


Museum Hike

Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is asking for municipal funding this year of $25,000, up from this year’s allocation of $15,000.


The additional $10,000 will go toward capital improvements and to support an upcoming Smithsonian traveling exhibit called “Hometown Teams.”


Museum Executive Director Matt Edwards said the local facility was tapped to host the program, which is requiring the museum to produce its own supporting activities and exhibits.


This accompanies an ongoing desire by the facility to better engage the Mount Airy and Surry County sports halls of fame by providing a permanent exhibit dedicated to local athletics. The exhibit would change annually to reflect the latest hall inductees.


The facility needs of the structure on North Main Street have become problematic, with Edwards telling Finance Committee members Thursday that its roof has become a major concern and needs replacing.


A capital campaign to raise $100,000 to $125,000 likely will be launched in the near future to meet such needs, the museum official said.


Library, Arts Council

While funding sought for the Mount Airy Public Library for the next fiscal year is the same as the present amount, $102,650, the most recent allocation included an increase in order to buy more books.


Officials of the library, which is part of the Northwest regional system and not operated by the municipality, stressed during Thursday’s presentation that funding requested for 2014-2015 is the same as this year.


But no mention was made of the fact that the present $102,650 level was treated as a one-time expense by city officials in 2013 to specifically provide the books, which is not the case this year.


John Hedrick, director of the regional library system, told city officials Thursday that unique needs do exist for the next fiscal year.


“Our main thrust this year is to get a pay raise our employees haven’t had in five years,” Hedrick said.


The system also is expecting higher insurance costs, the library official said.


Meanwhile, the Surry Arts Council is asking for continued city support of $87,500, which is unchanged from at least the past two years.


“The funding we get from the city and county governments is hugely important for us for matching grants,” council Executive Director Tanya Jones advised city officials Thursday regarding money that has been received from arts organizations.


“They represent a one-to-one match,” Jones said of the local government dollars.


Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.


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