Agencies seek aid from city in Tupelo's FY12 budget

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A trio of nonprofit agencies lobbied the City Council for a slice of its budget Tuesday.
Representatives from SAFE Inc., the Regional Rehabilitation Center and the Lee County Library made presentations to the council in hopes of getting funding for fiscal year 2012.
“Whether you know it or not, we all know a victim of domestic violence,” said Deborah Yates, executive director of SAFE, which offers shelter and assistance to battered and homeless people.
Yates said her agency helped 26 Tupelo residents alone between Oct. 1 and June 20. And she hopes the city will give her a $9,500 utility credit – a 10 percent increase from SAFE’s current level.
The agencies’ appearance is an annual tradition each August as the city prepares its upcoming budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1.
But this year featured a slim crowd; typically more than a half dozen nonprofits ask for financial assistance – many in the form of a utility credit.
“I was kind of surprised we didn’t have more to come,” said Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington. “Maybe because it was election night.”
County, regional and statewide primaries took place Tuesdays, and polls didn’t close until after the council meeting already had ended.
Lee County Library Interim Director Melissa Holekamp talked about the rising demand for computer and research access. The downtown facility could reach as many as 250,000 visitors this year alone.
She asked the city to increase its current allocation of $441,980 by 4.3 percent to expand its book and audio collection, as well as provide a small cost of living increase to her staff.
And Regional Rehabilitation Center Executive Director Kay Mathews said her agency, which provides a range of free therapies to thousands of clients, celebrates its 50th year of operation this year.
She also reminded the council that the Regional Rehab Center was part of Tupelo’s first two All-America City wins.
Agency President and Chairman Alan Bank requested funding but did not seek an increase over its current amount.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com