The annual campaign of nonprofit service providers to win financial support from the Louisa County Board of Supervisors began in earnest Monday, Feb. 5.
While not considered a nonprofit agency, the Louisa County Library was first in line, asking the board for a $41,000 increase to pay for four additional hours per week and staff pay increases. The library is currently open 44 hours per week, less than its rural counterparts in Greene and Nelson counties.
County officials call groups like the library “outside agencies,” as opposed to county departments such as the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office and the Louisa County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department. David Plunkett, the new executive director of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system, told the board on Monday that wasn’t the best way to classify his organization.
“I would make the case the library is a direct service of Louisa County government,” he said. “It’s a county-owned building, with staff paid by Louisa County, and who live in Louisa.”
He noted separate presentations about workforce development and high-speed internet service during the same board meeting. Many residents come to the library to use the internet to find work or for another purpose, because they lack the service at home.
“The public library’s been providing that for years,” Plunkett said.
Supervisor Toni Williams (Jackson district) asked whether the library would still need to be open as much in the near future, given how many people read on devices today rather than by checking out books. Plunkett said the library has adapted to this change to some extent, but noted the internet is not always a good substitute for traditional information sources.
At a work session on Monday afternoon, the supervisors agreed to level-fund most of the 36 outside agencies that requested more money in the fiscal year 2019 budget. The prominent exceptions are the library, the JAUNT bus transit service, Region Ten, and the Louisa County Resource Council, all of which will be considered for funding hikes.
The $354,721 the county provided to the library in fiscal year 2018 is the largest amount it gave to an outside, nonprofit agency, not including government programs such as Central Virginia Regional Jail and the Virginia Department of Health.
JAUNT, which submitted the second-largest funding request at $278,000, also asked for a $41,000 increase to cover personnel costs. Region Ten, which received $135,000 from the county last year, asked for an additional $52,000 this time. Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry district) said the agency is likely to have an increased cost burden as it continues to tackle the opioid epidemic.
The resource council, which provides food assistance to people in need, requested a $12,000 increase over what the board provided in fiscal year 2018, for a total of $40,000. The request is split between personnel and operations costs. The agency reports it serves more than 3,300 people each month.
Though the council’s request is small compared to what the county gives some of the other agencies, it found some resistance from board members.
“Do we want to make sure everybody’s fed?” Chairman Troy Wade (Louisa district) asked. “Or do we say, ‘Here’s a chunk of money; do the best you can with it.’”
“Just because you have a 501(c)(3) doesn’t mean it’s the responsibility of this board to tax the citizens and give their money away,” Williams said of the various agency requests. “I would like to tell some of the groups on this list that we’re going to decrease their funding over five years, ‘and in year five you’re getting zero.’”
(This is a partial article. Read the full story in the Feb. 8, 2018 issue of The Central Virginian)