NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY - The City of New Bern faces a $2.7 million dollar shortfall in its upcoming budget.
City aldermen voted Tuesday night to cut in half the amount of funding they provide to four non-profits each year. That amount will go from about $100,000 total to $50,000.
NewsChannel 12 took a deeper look into what the budget cuts mean for the four non-profits and the services they provide to the community.
Organization leaders said the main reason non-profits exist is to provide services to the community the city isn't able to do.
Members of the New Bern Board of Aldermen said with the new fiscal year starting July 1st, cuts had to be made to move forward.
The four non-profits taking a loss are the Swiss Bear, the New Bern Firemen's Museum, Craven Arts Council and the Duffyfield Community Council.
Executive Director of the Swiss Bear Susan Moffat-Thomas said they were actually founded to be partners with the city. She said they have raised more than $200 million for New Bern in the past 34 years.
"If every non-profit in this community shutdown, can you image the quality of life and how it would impact," Moffat-Thomas said.
Alderman Jeffrey Odham said they plan to eventually cut all of the funding to non-profits in New Bern. He said cuts are happening across the board and it's not just these non-profits.
"There was about $700,000 taken away from public works budget for repaving streets, and that's something all citizens drive on every day," Odham explained.
He said all New Bern city departments must reduce their operating budgets by five percent.
Moffat-Thomas said they are already committed to Mum Fest this year and where they go from here is yet to be determined.
A group of non-profits, partially funded by the City of New Bern, will see a dramatic cut in the next fiscal year.
The New Bern Board of Aldermen voted to cut funds in half for the Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corp., Craven Arts Council, New Bern Firemen's Museum and the Duffyfield Community Council.
Alderman Jeffrey Oldham said changes had to be made to weigh the wants with the needs.
"I don't feel like I was elected to pick and choose which non-profits we fund and which ones we don't. So in my opinion we don't fund any of them," Odham said.
Odham raised the motion at the meeting Tuesday night which passed 4 to 3. Mayor Dana Outlaw and Aldermen Bernard White and Victor Taylor opposed the proposal.
"We are not paving streets, we haven't purchased police vehicles in some number of years. I know we received a few last year, but that's nowhere near what's required to maintain a fleet," he explained.
Odham said the city is facing a $2.7 million dollar shortfall in the upcoming budget.
As a former alderman, Sabrina Bengel said, she knows the difficulty of having to make major cuts. Although, as a board member of the New Bern Firemen's Museum her concern is why this item wasn't on the meeting agenda.
"I'm not against what they did but how they did it. I believe they are due the respect of at least a phone call saying this is coming down, that's all, and not just take the hatchet and cut," Bengel said.
Odham said even if the motion was on the agenda there would have been no public comment because that's only done at the first meeting of each month.
"This is not for us. The citizens really own that museum. It's their legacy, the firemen's legacy and I'm very sad they took this path," Bengel said.
Ann Potter said she moved to New Bern 12 years ago for the rich cultural and arts community it offers.
"Although I understand everything is tight, but I would not want them to give up on improvements for New Bern," she said.
Odham said in the end there were really only two options, raise taxes or cut expenses.
"I would be willing to pay a little bit higher of a tax because this is good for the New Bern," Potter explained.
Odham's original motion Tuesday night was to cut the funding all together, Alderman Schaible seconded that motion but it failed 3 to 4.
Odham said the city gives more than $100,000 to the organizations each year and simply can't afford to do it any longer.
Bengel said the New Bern Firemen's Museum plans to call an emergency meeting tomorrow morning to discuss what its leaders can do.