The Fayette Citizen-News Page

Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Antilitter group ponders future without county funding


What will become of Keep Fayette Beautiful is a question the organization's staff and volunteers will be kicking around in the coming weeks.

Saying they don't see enough evidence of support from the community and the county's other governments, county commissioners last week stuck by their decision to cut the group out of the county budget for fiscal 2002, promising to revisit the issue in six months. The county has provided the only direct administrative funding for the group, $25,000 a year, though other cities and local industry have given cash contributions and in-kind goods and services to support individual projects, according to officials.

Marie Short, who became the troubled group's director last year, said this week she will be looking for guidance from the KFB Board of Directors about what the future holds.

Meanwhile, she is puzzled at the commission's decision, she said, because she believes KFB is well-supported and is actively carrying out its purpose in Fayette.

The group formed in the mid-1980s, and became an affiliate of the national Keep America Beautiful program, an antilitter, environmental education organization, about ten years ago. It operates an annual Christmas tree recycling program, chipping the trees for free and offering free mulch, along with cleanup campaigns and educational programs in Fayette schools, teaching students and teachers about recycling, conservation and the negative effects of littering.

Peachtree City gives about $50,000 a year to the organization, she said, for specific projects. And Brooks has promised $5,000 to promote a project in that town.

Before the commission made its decision last week, Yamaha Corp. pledged to match all contributions at 50 cents on the dollar, Short said.

"They [the commission] didn't want to count that money either," she said. "What money do they want to count?"

The group can continue to operate without the county's contribution, she said, but some volunteers are pondering whether it should do so as a county-wide organization.

"We can operate out of Peachtree City and work with other cooperative towns and not try to have a county-wide program," said Short. But, she added, "It would be such a shame to only operate in a community that's already so effective" at environmental and beautification projects.

She said KFB's annual Christmas tree chipping project alone, which costs about $10,000 to run, saves the county more than its $25,000 contribution.

"Twenty-five thousand dollars wouldn't even put a dent in what they're going to spend to chip Christmas trees," she said.

Short said she hopes to continue to drum up support in the community, and possibly do a better job of showing that support to commissioners when they reconsider funding KFB in six months. The problem, she said, is that the six months falls just before the Christmas tree recycling program in January, not leaving enough time to put that project together if the funding should come through.

KFB's board will meet in mid-July to consider its options for the future, Short said.

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