Thursday, September 3, 2009
City officials consider funding for E-WIN
By SUE WATSON
Edward Moses and Betty Yates made an appearance before the Holly Springs mayor and board of aldermen August 18 to ask for financial support of a new E-WIN Center in the county.
They asked the city to contribute $60,000 toward operation of the center for one year. The money would pay salaries for two, Yates said.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry said the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, which gave the green light for the electronic center where laid-off workers can apply for unemployment and where people can search for jobs, had given the city an authority to operate but no appropriations (funding).
Moses said as a director of the center he expects to require refunding of the center each year, a commitment DeBerry was very reluctant to support.
The mayor sought to know what other partners (local, state, or federal) would commit to the center before appropriating any money, asking specifically what amount Marshall County government has committed to.
Moses said Marshall County committed to looking for office space and contributing to utilities.
DeBerry questioned how the budget figure of $115,798 was derived, then an error in addition showed that the proposed budget comes to just under $100,000.
Alderman Garrie Colhoun asked how the WIN Centers in Oxford and DeSoto County are funded.
Yates said money comes to Three Rivers Planning and Development District, then flows to the community colleges, then to the WIN Centers. The E-WIN Center, just recently approved, is lagging behind the budgeting and funding process through Three Rivers and the community colleges, she said.
Moses thought that MDES is trying the E-WIN Center approach as a pilot project.
Supervisor George Zinn III was present to answer questions the aldermen and mayor would raise about the county's proposed involvement.
He said the county has not committed to finances for the E-WIN as yet but agreed to look into providing space and utilities “to show good faith and maybe the city would be just as interested in backing.”
Alderman Russell Johnson asked Zinn if E-WIN is a county project.
“I guess there’s a starting point and assume interest is to move to all entities and see if they will contribute as well,” Zinn said.
DeBerry asked again why federal dollars flowing to the state to community colleges and then into the WIN Centers are not flowing into the E-WIN Center.
“If DES has designated us as one of their centers, then why are we having to re-invent the wheel, if money flows from the federal to the state to the community colleges?” he asked.
“It’s because the budget was already set,” Yates said.
She explained that Three Rivers will be approached as well as the community colleges.
DeBerry argued that the state “just got $300 million for stabilization” that went to energize state agencies like Medicaid and Mississippi Department of Transportation.
“The first thing they should do is put money into workforce development,” he said.
“Les Range asked me, “Betty, do you want the glass empty or half full? Maybe there will be something later.”
Moses said he expects the state funds to come following the center designation.
“If we get funding, then we can let the city and county off the hook,” Yates said.
“These guys will tell you things, but won’t put any money behind it,” DeBerry said.
Yates said she did get a request for a copy of all who had visited the center recently from the state.
“To me, the answer to your problem is in Senatobia, Mississippi,” DeBerry said. “That’s why the community colleges were set up - to assist in workforce and job development. If they are not going to bring funding to the table, this is something not sustainable like Main Street (which received seed dollars). Then we add a program like this and have to carry it each year.”
Yates said she had been working on getting this E-WIN Center for four years and was laid off from the youth skills education program.
Moses reiterated that his request is for one-time funding.
“Let us be on your budget one year,” he said.
“The board will take due diligence on this request,” DeBerry said.
This discussion was followed by an appeal to the board from the mayor to insure all equipment against theft in light of the rip-off of lawn mowers, weed eaters, leaf blowers and other equipment two weeks ago from the department of buildings and grounds.
Theft coverage will cost the city an additional $8,511 a year and there will be a $2,500 deductible, he said.
The board passed a motion to get theft insurance on all uninsured equipment and to purchase new mowers and equipment from Four Seasons Equipment Company in Tupelo.
Later Ken Robinson reported that the Information Technology Center has new enrollment and that an evening welding class has been added by Northwest Community College to be held in Holly Springs in addition to the daytime class.
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