The City of Wharton City Council held their second Budget Workshop for the fiscal year 2021-2022 on Monday, July 19.
While still relatively early in the budget process, council members heard presentations from organizations requesting funds to assist with community projects and missions.
The Crisis Center
Kellie Wright-Nelson, with The Crisis Center was the first of six organizations to present their request for funds.
“Since June 1984, the Crisis Center has provided dedicated services to Wharton, along with other areas in the counties we serve, and continually works to increase support we can provide to the residents and to the City of Wharton,” Wright-Nelson said.
She continued her presentation by providing the number of clients and services the organization provides to the community.
“We provided 6,395 nights of shelter, conducted 318 forensic interviews with children, had a total of 1,268 adult domestic violence and/or sexual assault clients and 1,841 children advocacy center clients,” she told council members.
“Through these programs we offered 2,515 sessions of advocacy, 7,987 individuals were provided with prevention programs, and we had 355 residential clients living in our shelter.”
The Crisis Center also provides a Sexual Assault Forensic Medical Examination Facility, which allows survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence to receive a free forensic medical examination in a confidential, victim-centered facility. This program has also alleviates all costs associated with SANE examinations for law enforcement.
The organization is requesting $5,000 to be utilized for operation costs for their provided programs.
Wharton Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture
Ron Sanders, Executive Director for the Wharton Chamber, requested $52,000 from the city for operational costs incurred through marketing the city of Wharton.
“We have served as the front door of Wharton for more than one hundred years,” Sanders told council.
“These funds will help support our programs and services to promote visitor and business activity. We have now placed a marketing agency on retainer to meet Wharton’s growth as a destination.”
The organization included their major community events in the presentation.
“Our chamber sponsored events include: the Citywide Garage Sale; Snow on the Square; Wharton County Courthouse guided tours; Party Under the Bridge; Christmas Holiday Parade; and the Haunted Tour,” Sanders said.
If approved, the funds would be paid from the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax.
Under the State of Texas Tax Code, every event, program, or facility funded with hotel occupancy tax revenues must be likely to do two things: 1) directly promote tourism; and 2) directly promote the convention and hotel industry. “Tourism” is defined under Texas law as guiding or managing individuals who are traveling to a different city, county, state, or country.
Wharton County Stray Pet Outreach Program (SPOT)
Christine Stransky requested $3,000 from the city to assist the organization in its efforts to assist families with spaying and neutering pets.
SPOT wants to ensure that spay-neuter services continue to be available to low-income city of Wharton residents,” Stransky said during her presentation.
“PetSmart Charities’ research demonstrates that 90% of people living in poverty do not get their pets fixed because of the cost.”
These efforts aim to reduce the stray pet population within the county.
Friends of Wharton, Texas Animal Control
Debbie Folks, with Friends of Wharton, Texas Animal Control, presented to council members the organization’s need for city support and city funding.
“We directly benefit the city through saving thousands of dollars in euthanasia costs each year,” Folks said. “We partner and work closely with city animal control to save each and every new intake.”
Through their limited number of volunteers, the organization takes ownership of neglected, owner-surrendered pets, provides vetting and spay/neutering services, and partners with local and nation-wide rescues to place the pets with forever families.
Sherry and Barry Smith, organization leaders, clean the city pound, feed each animal, and fundraise for all the pound’s needs, as well as provide transportation, housing, fostering and coordination of each service.
The organization is requesting $3,000 to help in their efforts.
Wharton Downtown Business Association
Representation for the Wharton Downtown Business Association was not present during the budget workshop, however, City of Wharton Finance Director Joan Andel read the organization’s request for $30,000 to council members.
“As you are planning your budget for the coming year, please consider this our formal request for a $30,000 dedication of (Hotel/Motel Tax) funds for the following purposes: $15,000 for design items; $10,000 dedicated to annual festival and event programming; and $5000 to monthly programming,” the request read.
The organization’s leader, Debra Medina, said in the request, “We agree with you that the central business district defines the city’s character, embodies our heritage and provides opportunities for tourism.”
The organization has previously consulted with out-of-town marketing and branding company fd2s, to create what Medina deems fit for the look of Wharton’s Downtown.
Funds, if approved, would carryout Medina’s design plans, as well as monthly and annual festivals for downtown.
Just Do It Now
Barbara Fortenberry, activities coordinator for Just Do It Now, presented the organization’s request for hotel/motel tax funding.
The organization was forced to cancel fundraising events for 2020 and 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, and is requesting city assistance for the return of their three main fundraisers: The Daddy-Daughter Dance; Crawfish Boil; and the Christmas/Fall Ball.
“Each fundraising event has a proposed $5,000 expense budget to cover the cost of offering quality events that are likely to attract locals and tourists to come and enjoy fun times and dollars in Wharton,” Fortenberry said.
“In total, Just Do It Now, Inc is respectfully making a formal request of $15,000 to help with our fundraising efforts. Any amount of funding would be most graciously accepted and resourcefully used to the benefit our beloved Wharton community.”
Just Do It Now offers a variety of services to the community of Wharton. These services include youth sporting teams, food drives, after school programs and daily meals for children, and a child advocate partnership with the Wharton Independent School District.
The City of Wharton will continue to prepare the budget for the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 with their next Budget Workshop. The date has not yet been scheduled.
For city meetings, minutes and agendas, visit www.cityofwharton.com.