Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The Dorchester County Council voted last Monday again to delay a decision regarding Ridgeville Mayor James Williams’ request for a summer youth workers program funding.
Mayor Williams first made his request for $7,000 at the June 3 county council meeting, at which point the council voted to defer the request to the Budget, Finance and Purchasing Committee.
A lively discussion about the request ensued between councilmembers when the committee read the request.
“We don’t give our youth anything positive to do,” said Councilman Willie Davis. “The best thing to keep a child out of trouble is a job. I’ve been working since I was 9 years old and the only thing it’s done is helped me.”
The comment sparked several nods of agreement from various councilmembers, who then proposed varying plans of action.
Councilman Larry Hargett suggested the council add $5,000 to the county’s pre-existing Summer Youth Employment Program, which has not seen an increase in years. The program budget was previously $20,000 but was decreased to the current budget of $15,000 in fiscal year 2010, according to the county Budget and Finance Department.
“We’ve got to give those teenagers some help,” Hargett said.
While all the councilmembers agreed the county is responsible for helping its youth, the question of where the funds would come from posed a problem.
Councilman David Chinnis was also concerned with the quantity of appropriate job-search tools for the youth who apply but are not hired for the Summer Youth Employment Program positions.
“Getting the information out there [about summer jobs] is an important part of this,” he said.
As a result, the committee, and later the council, voted to put the topic on hold until January when it can be discussed again in the context of the mid-year budget. Included in the motion, the council also voted to discuss at that time the creation of a job bank on the county website as a venue to post summer employment opportunities for area youth.
The Summer Youth Employment Program currently hires 15 youths aged 16-22 years old from across the county; each is paid minimum wage for their employment term of June through August, and they work about 20 hours per week.
If the council does vote to add money to the program budget, the program would be able to hire more youths to work for the county in the future.