Stanly commissioners discuss parks and recreation grants

At Monday’s meeting of the Stanly County Board of Commissioners, the county’s parks and recreation grant program was discussed.

Commissioner Peter Asciutto introduced the agenda item, saying the grant program was “a permanent program that we voted on.”

The deadline to apply is April 18.

“I was surprised that we had an application process open, and all of a sudden, a commissioner wanted to stop funding it,” Asciutto said. “I want to get some assurance that we’re going to fund this program.”

Commissioner Brandon King said he wanted to “clear the air,” adding he was not personally against the grant program.

“I was just asking the question at the (retreat) with the new expenditures we have coming, if we were going to look at making cuts or raising taxes. And that’s just one of the projects I think we could afford to cut if necessary,” King said.

King said he understood it was only $100,000 out of the budget, but added, “I’m sure Peter can just write a check for that, but I can’t. One hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money and we have to start looking at places to make cuts…nobody wants to cut out a whole program, but we have to look (to be) fiscally responsible people.”

Asciutto countered, asking about the ethics and legality of having a grant program to whom municipalities apply, then the county says, “Oh, I’m sorry. There’s no money in that pot.”

“Just like Brandon said, let’s be patient with it,” Commissioner Trent Hatley said. “I don’t think anybody’s against the program. I just think we want to do the right thing at the right time, and now is not the right time.”

Chairman Bill Lawhon said “just because we have a grant program does not mean that we have a funded grant program each and every year.”

“It’s just like any other program. We have to review our revenue and expenses to determine what we can do,” Lawhon said.

He said the county should be “frugal” with taxpayer dollars.

Asciutto made a motion to approve the parks and recreation grant program for next year’s budget (2024-25 fiscal year), but it did not receive a second.