Commissioners — I, among others, watched with incredulity the attempt last week to pass a budget without the normal procedures in place to provide information to the public, present information in a way that was viewable or ADA compliant (small type on small screens, no printed copies), allow for informed public comment (budget was not available before the public comment period), allow for public questions or comments after the presentation and commissioner discussion, or address the public health crisis that has provided this apparent “windfall” for shelved projects to be pulled out of mothballs.
At the very least, I would expect that proper procedures would be followed. It is unfathomable that a community-wide assessment would not be conducted to determine where the areas of greatest need are due to the pandemic and its consequences.
In addition, the agenda did not state that the commissioners would be reviewing a budget and potentially voting on it. If this was the case, the proposed budget should have been posted with an agenda that actually reflected activities during the meeting.
The circumstances that are providing the county with these resources are not normal and following the “norm” by only considering regular “line items” seems to be shortsighted at best.
Our best estimates are that 12-18 months after the pandemic, there will be an overwhelming need for human services such as mental health, suicide prevention, family support, educational support, childcare services, healthcare, and more.
In addition, the tone set when discussing nonprofits and their contributions to the community was disrespectful and showed a lack of understanding about the human service needs in our community and the role that nonprofits play.
In the presentation last week, the guiding principles (p. 5) state: Adequate time should be taken to carefully consider all alternatives for the prudent use of ARPA funding prior to committing the resources to ensure the best use of the temporary funding.
I urge you to step back and start over. A fresh look at the ways the money can be used based on community need coupled with a robust review process that follows established standards and requirements is a necessity.
T. Randahl Morris, PhD, APR
CEO, AVPRIDE — A Youth Development Nonprofit
Board Chair, Fayette County Hospital Authority
Past Chair, Southern Conservation Trust
Board Member, Georgia River Network
Ret., Assistant Professor, UWG