The Norman Transcript

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April 23, 2013

County eliminates youth shelter budget line item

NORMAN — Cleveland County commissioners and other elected county officials have been working on the budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. The public hearing over the budget is scheduled for May 13.

Crossroads Youth Services Executive Director Lisa Winters spoke to the County Budget Board on Monday in an attempt to convince county officials to continue a $200,000 funding payment to the Emergency Youth Shelter.

Crossroads is a nonprofit that administers the shelter. The state provides a sizable percentage of funding for the shelter. Additionally, Crossroads raises money from private donors.

On Monday, the budget board eliminated the item from the county budget this year.

Commissioner Rusty Sullivan said his concern is that the county will lose the shelter and children will not be served.

“It is going to be a gut-wrenching decision what to do about that (loss of funding),” Winters said.

Winters said many programs will be affected if Crossroads loses all county funding. She asked budget board members to sit down with her board and talk.

“We cannot easily replace $200,000,” she said. “This is the only shelter of this kind in Cleveland County.”

Commissioner Rod Cleveland has led the charge to remove county funding as a budget line item.

“I’ve never heard one negative thing about the shelter,” Cleveland said.

He said he appreciates the work the shelter has done.

Even though the money designated for the shelter was removed as a line item in the county’s budget, the contract with Crossroads will be up for renewal at the end of June. At that time the county can negotiate the cost, Cleveland said.

Commissioner Darry Stacy said his first experience with the county budget process has been “extremely positive.”

“Cleveland County is headed in the right direction,” Stacy said. “I cannot be more proud of the other elected officials and how serious they take being stewards of the county’s money.”

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