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County considers non-profit funding, alternate uses for gas tax revenue

As commissioners thumbed through five-inch-thick three-ring binders April 1 and approved funding proposals for more than 30 categories in the first round of budgeting for the 2013-14 fiscal year, commissioners questioned the equitable funding of the lengthy list of nonprofit organizations.

Commissioner Kathy Danner, District 4, said, “What is the criteria needed to derive this list, and how long have we been serving these organizations?” The latter part of Danner’s question could not be answered specifically, but the question is one that spans the three decades. 

“There is no specific criteria,” said Commissioner Steve Smith, District 12. “The list grew organically over a long period of time.”

According to commissioners, the county stopped funding nonprofit organizations several years ago after the long history of monetary support because of the growing list. Instead of cutting nonprofit organizations on the existing list, they decided not to fund any additional nonprofits.

“It seems that we are cherry picking,” Danner said. “We are providing funding for competing services in the community.”

She suggested that the commission could wean themselves off funding organizations in direct competition by reducing funding by half, then eventually eliminating the funding.

“It can be argued that they should be taken off of the list, but some depend on that money. It’s the principle,” said Ernie Williams, District 9, Chairman of the CCBC. “This is not a lot of money.”

However, Danner said that although funding a service that no one else provides made sense, though she questioned the fairness of funding competing services when the county could not adequately fund them all. 

During the meeting, the body approved the funding for organizations on the existing list that serve seniors, children and veterans such as Boys and Girls Club and Meals On Wheels and Bridges Domestic Violence. Amounts ranged from a few thousand to almost $40,000.

The hefty fund balance of $12 million for the county’s Highway Department – essentially a surplus as the fiscal year draws to a close – was also discussed. After spending years trying to “beef up” the fund balance for roads, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson said, “We are victims of our own success.” Due to state stipulations, money cannot be transferred from the roads balance to other county departments, but must be channeled into the funding of county roads and road projects, excluding city and state roads. 
School Resource Officers
Separate meetings will be conducted to hear budget presentations from the schools district as well as the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office – the two departments that receive the greatest county funding. Each figures prominently in funding the 32 newly hired School Resource Officers. The schools district will present its budget April 8 at 5:30 p.m. and the sheriff’s office will present its April 9 at 3:30 p.m. at the Williamson County Administrative Complex. 

Posted on: 4/2/2013


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