Organizations React To Mayor's Proposal To Cutback Donations

Some local charities, and other organizations, are facing significant cutbacks in the money they get from the city of Gulfport. The problem is the city's financial difficulties.

One of the organizations that could be eliminated from any funding is the De L Epee Deaf Center. It is the only one of its type in the entire state. Last year, the city gave it $4,000, but this upcoming fiscal year, the mayor proposes the city give the center nothing.

"I don't know what we are going to do to help make up that money. We just don't have people giving us money right now," center director Dr. Rodney Woods said.

De L'Epee has an operating budget of $246,000. The Catholic Diocese and the United Way are by far the biggest contributors, but the city's money helps too. If anybody else starts to cut back on donations to the center, there may be big problems.

"We are looking down the road at cutting or closing some of our services, and where are all the deaf going to go," Woods said.

Not far from De L'Epee is the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. Last year, it got $10,000 from the city. This year it may not get a single cent. Executive director Betsy Grant says she is disappointed.

"We are a support for education here, we see 12,000 school children a year, we do workshops for teachers," Grant said.

Although they charge admission, Grant says the museum is still young and not yet self supporting. That's part of why the money from Gulfport helps.

"We are out there earning income as much as we possibly can, and I don't see support from the city of Gulfport as a charitable donation. I see it as an investment in the future," Grant said.

Representatives from Lynn Meadows as well as the De L'Epee Center plan on speaking to the city council in hopes of getting some financing restored.