It’s Your Money: Horry County Animal Care Center benefits from Community Benefit Fund

Updated: Dec. 3, 2019 at 7:12 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County residents will soon be able to adopt pets for free from the county’s Animal Care Center.

Councilman Harold Worley’s donation of $25,000 to the center will make waiving adoption fees possible.

The $20,000 donation is not from Worley’s own pocket but from the taxpayers. Horry County sets aside $240,000 from the General Fund for what’s called the Community Benefit Fund. Each council member has around $20,000 to donate to community organizations each fiscal year.

The money is required to be spent for a public purpose for organizations with the appropriate tax-exempt status.

Organizations usually apply for the funds and council members vote on the selected organizations monthly.

The Community Benefit Funds helped after-school programs, beautification projects and historical research in 2019.

“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without that money because the plantings are very expensive and I believe to plant Gardner Lacy was over $8,000 and so we would never be able to raise that amount of money alone,” explained Betsy Fay, president of Beautify Carolina Forest.

Beautify Carolina Forest’s 40 volunteers plants, mows and maintains the medians in the Carolina Forest portion of Horry County. Fay said the group received money for the last two years from the county.

The Phoenix Renaissance is another organization that regularly receives funding. The nonprofit provides after-school and summer programs to kids in the Racepath Community.

“When you are charging $25 a week for an after school program, the teachers have to be compensated, the cleaning person has to be compensated and when you do that, you barely have enough to pay a bill and it’s really stressful on me as the president but we manage,” said president Rev. William Gause.

Councilman Dennis DiSabato’s contribution this year helped fund a bus for the summer program.

“That means a lot because down through the years we were riding vans and vans were costing us a huge amount of money that we didn’t have,” Gause said.

On Tuesday, council members approved the use of $37,500 for the Horry County Animal Care Center, the Beach Ball Classic and a Christmas Parade for seniors and children in Longs.

A spokesperson for the Animal Care Center said the details of the donation are still being determined and it does not know when free adoptions will begin.

Adoption fees are currently waived as part of the annual Home for the Holidays program.

Councilman Worley did not return WMBF’s call to clarify how $25,000 funds could be donated when each member is only given $20,000.

In 2019, the Animal Care Center, Buck Creek Foundation, Beach Ball Classic and the Loris Volunteer Fire Department received the most amount of funding with more than $10,000 each.

Council members Worley, Prince and Crawford all donated the most amount of the funds.

Gardner only allocated $1,000 of his funds and Bellamy only $2,100.

The $240,000 has received criticism in the past when it was called a ‘recreation fund.’

In 2018, the county renamed the funds and set limits on how and where the money could be used.

“Council desires to amend the code so that funds appropriated can be used for projects and organizations that benefit the community, and are not limited to recreation purposes only,” the proposed ordinance states, according to reporting by My Horry News.

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