Council cuts target human service efforts
SALEM – There’s little Goodwill in Salem’s proposed 2011-2012 budget.
At a 90-minute work session after the regular Salem City Council meeting May 9, council members decided to axe Goodwill Industries’ request for $10,000 in next year’s proposed $144-million overall budget, and give the agency only $2,000.
Goodwill was one of 44 human and community service agency requests for city money.
By cutting that $10,000 request, trimming down Center in the Square’s annual campaign request for $173,750 to $15,000, and adjusting other requested contributions, the city wound up with about $30,000 in appropriation reserves for the next fiscal year.
The numbers aren’t final until Salem City Council takes an official vote on the budget, which is expected in June.
Ultimately, Council agreed to give Goodwill $2,000, after Council Member Bill Jones suggested that.
Reasons council members gave for not giving anything to Goodwill Industries started with Mayor Randy Foley’s opening statement: “I don’t know that they need us.” Other council members said Goodwill Industries is notably successful in its fundraising efforts, particularly with its resale stores. Salem has two, one on East Main Street and the newer one that opened this year on West Main Street, across from Walmart.
Salem Vice Mayor John Givens added, “I’d rather give something to Habitat for Humanity than Goodwill.”
Council earmarked $9,000 for now, and may consider raising that. The amount is the same as what the city gave this year. Habitat builds homes for first-time owners who qualify because of limited incomes.
Although Roanoke College students have built a house as a freshman project for the past four years, and a number of Salem churches also help build Habitat houses, they have all been located in the City of Roanoke.
Salem City Manager Kevin Boggess noted Habitat has not been successful in finding property in Salem to build, because of property values, and Habitat officials would rather use their resources in Roanoke where they could make their money stretch farther.
Several Salem City Council members expressed desires for city officials to talk with Habitat for Humanity board members to see if details could be worked out to build a Habitat home in Salem.
Other proposed appropriations in Salem’s budget for next year range from $500 for the Young Audiences program that brings cultural activities to Salem and surrounding area elementary schools; to $15,000 to the Food Pantry that provides food to needy individuals and families in Salem and Roanoke County.
Salem’s total projected budget for 2011-2012 is $144-million, including a $41-million school budget.
That includes a 1 percent cost of living increase for city employees, plus a one-time $800 bonus. School employees will get a 2 percent bonus plus a 1 percent cost of living increase. According to figures from Finance Director Frank Turk, those amounts are line with what surrounding counties and cities are projecting for employees in the next fiscal year.
Salem employees have gone three years without a salary increase.
Editor’s note: The original article and that published in the May 12 printed issue had an incorrect amount for Goodwill Industries.