Support for community nonprofits dominated the first public hearing of the FY14 budget season this afternoon, with representatives of a number of organizations coming before the Board of Supervisors to make their case for funding.
By far, Brain Injury Services and Loudoun Interfaith Relief, both of which are targeted for a 20 percent reduction in county funding, made the strongest push for reinstatement.
"The face of hunger has changed," LIR Executive Director Bonnie Inman said. "We must be available to help with something so basic, so basic, as food."
2010 Stone Bridge High School graduate Tyler Werner told supervisors through a computer-generated voice that he was a child like any other child—until 2002 when he suffered a spontaneous brain bleed that left him severely disabled. He said he relies on the support he and his family receive from Brain Injury Services.
"I have hopes and dreams just like everyone else. To reach these hopes and dreams I need...the support of Brain Injury Services," he said, adding, "They were the ones I could always count on."
The Holiday Coalition, and the organization that administers it, Help For Others, also had supporters in the audience. Help For Others is scheduled for a funding cut in FY14 as well. The county money, speakers said, would help the Holiday Coalition meet a challenge it has never had before.
"We need to find a new home. That involves the cost of leasing space, which we have never had to do before," volunteer Charles Bichy said, telling supervisors the Department of Family Services space used in recent years is no longer available. "This funding would help meet the leasing costs."
There were a handful of speakers who called for full funding of the Loudoun County Public Schools budget.
"I am librarian. My husband is a waiter. We work really hard and live on a tight budget..." Leesburg mother Michele Copeland said. "We are very willing to pay our fair share so kids like my son get the quality programs they deserve."
There are likely to be more speakers on the schools budget during this evening's session, as the Loudoun Education Association has scheduled a rally at 5 p.m. to bring its membership out in support of a fully-funded budget.
But there were a couple speakers who urged the board to use caution as it weighs all the requests of various groups.
"There are a lot of people asking you for money," Leesburg resident and business owner Butch Porter said. "I think all those people, to the person, have noble causes and have things they need to accomplish. I would advise the board that it is not your money. It is important for you guys to find ways to limit the size and scope of your spending. If you can’t do that, I don’t know where we are."
This evening's budget public hearing begins at 6 p.m. at the county government center. The overflow hearing scheduled tentatively for Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. has been canceled. The board will reconvene for its final public hearing at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at the school administration building in Broadlands.