Duct Tape Won’t Fix This Problem

So, the Jefferson County Budget Committee is seeing red to the tune of more than $1.6 million dollars and the scratching to raise a penny is taking its toll. This week those that were brave enough, curious enough or required to attend the non profit portion of the budget season were in for more show than go. While in previous years fire department funding has been the game stopper, complete with gnashing of teeth and spittle, this year they sailed through with little fan fare. The departments played well, asking for level funding after a fairly significant increase for the current fiscal year. Well, with the exception of the Rescue Squad which asked for an additional $4000 but didn’t really have it earmarked for anything. Every fire department, including the Rescue Squad, got what they got last year and everyone appeared to be pleased. This year the rub came from the Boys and Girls Club. What you should know is that they are the last man standing from a long list of worthy non profits that gets any funding, little alone the significant amount of $80,000 which is what they received the current fiscal year. They came into Monday’s meeting asking for $100,000 which was a little hard to swallow for those that saw non profits like Meals on Wheels who feed the elderly get chopped down to zero several years ago along with multiple other do good organizations.

Now, I am not going to argue that the Boys and Girls Club isn’t a good organization. What I am going to argue is that there are many great organizations that service many different groups in Jefferson County. Where and when did we, as a county, determine that the only worthy non profit is the one that provides after school and holiday care for children? Do they feed them? Sure. But they don’t all need to be fed. What everyone seems to forget is that there are many children that pay to go to the Boys and Girls Club. They are not in financial need. They have cell phones and i pads and the latest designer shoes and that is great. But to truly evaluate the needs of an organization you have to be willing to see the full picture and the full picture includes both ends of the financial spectrum. Feeding the kids pulls the heartstrings. It pulls mine. That is why we hear a lot about feeding the kids during budget season. How can you take food out of the mouths of babes? What we also heard at a recent County Commission meeting is that the Boys and Girls Club provided food at a vacation Bible School, with tax payer money. Am I the only one that sees something amiss here? Anyway the club is grant rich and Jefferson County is sitting in a $1.6 million dollar hole. Their financial situation looks much better than ours does currently.

IF we are going to hand our money to non profits ( and let me be clear, I don’t believe that the County should determine where any tax payer donates their money) then why do we not just determine how much we are going to spend on non profits and divide that by the number of qualifying non profits. Why should my tax dollars or your tax dollars go to fund something that we would not personally support? It breaks my heart to think of the elderly that have no one to check on them and only eat when someone brings them food. After all, they have done their share to build our county and our country. Do they not deserve one hot meal a day and someone to make sure that they haven’t fallen and can’t get up? What about the Red Cross, who come rushing in during times of great need and offer a hand to those that have been devastated by circumstance? The list goes on and on and is as diverse as the tax payers in this county. Why not leave true non profits, not those that are a sudo arm of the government like fire, rescue and animal control, out of the tax payer funding picture and let the people determine where their money goes?

So, the budget committee cut the Boys and Girls Club $12,000 from their current $80,000. That leaves them with $68,000 dollars from county coffers. That is $8,000 more than they got the year that everyone else got the ax. This is not a nominal amount to insure grants. This is $68,000. It could fund a couple of police officers or teachers or paramedics. Or, it could just be a part of what closes that $1.6 hole.

Look, I don’t hate little kids. I like kids and I don’t hate the Boys and Girls Club but non profits are big business and they are a business, no matter how you cut it. Any organization that has a nearly million dollar budget is big business. Some folks won’t agree with me and that’s okay. Some will want to spend money on non profits and that, also, is fine. We all need fire and rescue and animal control. But if we are going to go further than that let’s just dig deep, bite off the pennies of property tax needed and fund everyone. That way philosophies of the County Commission don’t even come in to play. Come one, come all.

Believe me, I am not the only one struggling with non profit funding. It took the budget committee more than ten motions to finally find a funding level that the majority could swallow and I truly believe that would not have happened at all except some were tired of debating the issue. Now the hole is ever so slightly smaller and we still haven’t moved passed the $1.6 dollar hole. It should be interesting to see who flinches first-those who want to give till it hurts and are comfortable clutching a fist full of pennies to pay for it and those that have a death grip on the tax rate and are believe that nothing is off the chopping block. And then after the fight on the committee level comes the main event with the full body where everyone has a spending philosophy and a vote. And now they have a remote control to register their vote so no one supposedly knows how the others will vote. Now to just confiscate cell phones at the door. One thing is for sure, this could get very interesting.

Source: Kristen Depew