The Winston-Salem City Council has approved $1 million to address poverty and social justice issues. But new measures highlighted a disagreement over how the funds will be allocated.

Discussions began following activist calls for using money from the Police Department's nearly $79 million budget. After initially eyeing $1 million earmarked for vacant police jobs, the city instead committed to diverting funds from elsewhere in the budget.

A citizen's panel recommended that 44 different anti-poverty organizations including churches, nutrition groups, and those helping the homeless receive funding. The spending plan — with each group receiving roughly $16,000 — was passed with a 6-2 vote.

West-Ward Council Member Robert Clark was one of the dissenting voices. He says he would have divvied up the money among a select few organizations based on their proposals and then measured their success.

“I think to make a difference you have to spend enough money to make a difference,” says Clark. “And therefore instead of doing four or five projects, we're doing 49. And I think the funds are being diluted so much that we really won't get much impact of anything.”

Clark says he fears the checks will likely be used to meet administrative overhead costs. He was joined in his opposition to the plan by East Ward Council Member Annette Scippio along similar lines. Her substitute motion to tap an additional $300,000 originally earmarked for broadband access was voted down by a vote of 5-3.

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