LUMBERTON — The chairman of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners denies former County Manager Ken Windley’s suggestion that the board’s decision not to provide funding to the county’s long-term disaster recovery committee might be a vendetta.
“This is not at all personal,” Tom Taylor said Wednesday. “I was shocked when he went to the newspaper and said this without meeting with me first.”
Instead, Taylor said, Windley must provide the commissioners with a plan that does not duplicate services being provided in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
Windley, Robeson County’s manager from 2002 to 2010, retired after his relationship with some members of the eight-member board deteriorated. He now is chairman of the county’s long-range disaster recovery committee, which is comprised of about 45 people from 20 community organizations. The state and FEMA asked for the creation of the local committees to guide recovery efforts.
Windley told The Robesonian on Tuesday he is concerned that the county government is not financially supporting his organization’s efforts to oversee all case management for people trying to recover from Hurricane Matthew. The county has contracted with the Lumber River Council of Governments to handle the individual case management side of permanent housing, while his organization is responsible for finding permanent solutions to a hurricane survivor’s personal needs other than housing.
“They (county officials) told us they want us only to look at those individuals who are renting and not touch anyone getting back into their homes,” Windley said. “If they want us to do that, they are going to have to provide some funding. There are no grants for renters.”
His committee, made up of unpaid volunteers, has been operating mostly on private donations, he said.
He believes Robeson County is the only county in the state that has a long-term disaster recovery committee that is not designated by the county to be responsible for all case management for individual hurricane survivors.
“We should be responsible for helping individual homeowners as well as renters through the process,” Windley said. “People are coming to us every day for assistance and we can’t help because we don’t have the funding to pay for case workers.”
Taylor defended the county, saying Windley has not given a plan of action to the commissioners for their review and approval.
“We have asked him for a plan and he hasn’t given us one,” Taylor said. “We’re not going to give away any money until a plan is presented. We have already given money to the Council of Governments and to DSS (Department of Social Services). Before we give any money, we want to make sure there is no overlapping of services.”
Windley asked the Board of Commissioners for $10,000 last week to help cover his committee’s operational costs. He also is planning to ask Lumberton city leaders for $10,000.
Taylor is incorreect when he says that the commissioners have asked him to submit a plan of operation, Windley said.
“They have never asked for a plan,” he said. “I will submit a plan that they can live with if they will work with me, but I submitted a ‘memorandum of understanding’ the first of January and have never heard anything about it.”
Taylor said it is Windley who is not working with the commissioners. He said Windley failed to attend a meeting Wednesday with three county commissioners, a FEMA representative, and the county manager.
“We had hoped to work this all out and possibly have some action ready to be taken at our board meeting on Monday,” Taylor said. “But he (Windley) never showed up. Now I don’t know what will happen Monday. I’m assuming the issue will come up.”
Windley says he wasn’t told a meeting had been scheduled for Wednesday.
“I knew nothing about the meeting,” Windley said. “How could I attend when I wasn’t invited?”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.