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Battered women money to be restored, Boschert says Neall had cut $45,890 from YWCA Woman's Center


County Council Chairman David Boschert said yesterday that money for battered women, the focus of an intensive lobbying effort when the county executive cut the level of support in his May 1 budget proposal, will be restored.

Boschert said he spoke with County Executive Robert R. Neall last week and that the two agreed that $45,890 cut from the YWCA Woman's Center would be restored in Neall's supplemental budget, to be sent to the council this week.

"There was such a level of interest there, it was seen as a priority," Boschert said.

Louise Hayman, a spokeswoman for Neall, said restoration of the money was being "strongly considered," but that no final decisions have been reached.

She said Neall is still waiting for the recommendations of council Auditor Joseph Novotny, due today, before deciding on any supplemental budget requests.

The cut, which represented 16 percent of the program's $294,000 budget, prompted the center's staff to launch a petition drive and lobbying effort.

Volunteers gathered 2,000 signatures on petitions calling for restoration of the money, and council members took about 20 calls on the issue last week.

A dozen women testified at public hearings to protest the cuts. Some battered women told how the program helped them get counseling and turn their lives around.

Michaele Cohen, director of the center, said yesterday she is "not counting any chickens" before the budget is approved.

"We understand that there's a lot of horse trading going on, but we're not going to count on it until it's a done deal," she said. "We just hope that they see it as a vital service."

Budget officer Steven Welkos said if the money is restored, he is unsure where it will be found in the county's $634 million budget.

Marriage license fees by law are devoted to domestic violence-prevention programs. But Welkos said the $95,250 estimated to be raised in marriage license fees for the program will not change.

Neall's budget proposal also called for eliminating the $30,850 post of executive director of the county Commission for Women; and cutting $30,000 to help provide women legal help in court cases and custody fights, child support and other domestic issues that the Legal Aid Bureau will not handle.

The fate of those funds remained up in the air yesterday.

The council is scheduled to adopt a final budget for the coming fiscal year by Friday.

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