Charleston County Council made some additional changes Tuesday to the federal grant funding that local nonprofit groups will receive, and finalized plans to begin broadcasting the council's meetings.
At issue with the federal Community Development Block Grant funds was whether the council would accept the recommendations of a committee of local officials and residents that reviewed the grants, or make wholesale changes. Council members did shift funding from some groups to others, but funded all of the recommended organizations, most of them at the recommended levels.
Pro Bono Legal Services was a clear winner from the council's changes, receiving $15,000, triple the funding recommended by a council committee just last week. The organization provides legal services to low-income county residents on civil cases.
Last week, Council Chairman Teddie Pryor had reduced Pro Bono's funding to $5,000, in order to free up more funding for the Lowcountry Food Bank. On Tuesday, Council Vice Chairman Elliott Summey increased Pro Bono's funding, and also restored $10,000 that he had cut from the homeless shelter Crisis Ministries on Thursday in order to maintain funding for Metanoia Community Development Corp.
The losers in Tuesday's changes were SC Strong, which is rehabilitating a building on the former Navy base to create job training for homeless former convicts and former substance abusers, the Ravenel Depot Railroad Museum, and a housing program in Hollywood. Each program will receive substantial funding, but less than had been recommended.
Summey also suggested promising money to the Charleston Trident Urban League, which received no funding, if more federal money becomes available in the coming year.
Other County Council members objected, saying that if more money were to come from the federal government, as is anticipated, then the roughly two dozen organizations that got no funding should compete for it.
"As important as the work of the Trident Urban League is, they should go through the process," Councilman Joe McKeown said.
Councilman Henry Darby said he thought it was wrong that the town of Mount Pleasant will receive $45,000 for an initiative to provide low-cost office space to start-up companies, while the Trident Urban League will receive nothing.
In other business, a divided council voted to broadcast not only the regular County Council meetings, where final actions are taken, but also the generally more lengthy committee meetings, where most of the discussions take place. Under a franchise-fee agreement with the county, Comcast Cable will film and broadcast the meetings at no cost to the county.
Pryor, Darby, Summey and Curtis Inabinett opposed broadcasting committee meetings, but were outvoted. Only Darby opposed broadcasting regular meetings.