• City Council looks at saving after-school programs

    By: Jenna Deery


    Charlotte City Council looked at adding $411,223 to next year's budget to help after-school programs at risk of making cuts because it’s missing the mark on city standards for funding.
    Each year, the city has after-school programs compete for money to ensure public dollars are going toward fiscally sound and high-performing organizations.
    YWCA Central Carolinas and Above and Beyond Students were among the groups with low scores so funding was either cut or denied under the city manager's proposed budget.
    On Monday, council members heard pleas from the two groups asking them not to take away funding.
    YWCA Central Carolinas could lose $350,000 which makes of 30 percent of its budget. CEO Kirsten Sikkelee said that could mean three youth programs cut and 90 children released from its learning centers.
    "We can't withstand a blow like that without closing programs," said Sikkelee.
    Wednesday night, City Council met to adjust City Manager Ron Carlee's $2.1 billion proposed budget.
    They spent some time debating what to do about the after-school programs.
    "The whole idea was to make this a competitive process," said Councilman David Howard. 
    Some council members had an issue giving the programs money when they didn't rank high enough with the city's standards.
    "To run away from our own policy, to run away from our own work every year is nuts," said Michael Barnes.
    Still, City Council decided to consider matching the programs funding this year to last year, putting an additional $411,223 on to the budget.
    Sikkelee is hopeful that will mean programs meaningful to students won't change.
    Council will vote on the funding increase in two weeks before approving a final budget that does not include any increase to taxes at the moment.
    Council also voted Wednesday to consider not raising water and sewer rates, despite the City Manager's recommendation to raise rates three percent.
    The hike is estimated to cost about $1.73 more a month for the average homeowner.
    Carlee will report back to council what the impact would be if council votes not to raise rates.

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