Ten nonprofits and agencies may no longer get any Macon-Bibb County government funding next year.
One commissioner says his plan is to give those organizations enough time to find money to make up for the loss, which would total $762,200 among all the agencies. Another county leader, however, argues the focus should not be on removing money from entities such as the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank, Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful and various cultural arts organizations.
Commissioner Joe Allen said Macon-Bibb government can no longer afford to pay money to certain agencies when the county will have to find $8 million next year to cover the Other-Post Employment Benefit fund, which covers some benefits, such as health care, for retirees.
It’s not fair to the taxpayers who could be facing another property tax increase next year, Allen said.
“It’s not right for us to spend John Doe’s or Jane Doe’s money,” Allen said. “If they want to spend it, then let John Doe or Jane Doe spend it wherever they want to.”
Allen’s resolution calls for notifying the 10 organizations that they will not receive any funding in the next budget. The proposal was scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s commission committee meetings, but was removed from the agenda.
It’s expected to come back up within the next couple of weeks.
Commissioner Virgil Watkins called Allen “ridiculous” for attempting to cut out funding that would impact places like the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Tubman Museum and Museum of Arts and Sciences.
“I think arts and quality of life is a function of government,” Watkins said.
The discussion about the amount of funding “outside agencies” like museums, the library system and governmental entities such as the planning and zoning commission played a major role in the summer’s lengthy budget saga. Eventually, the commission settled on providing $8.5 million to those groups, a 15 percent reduction from the previous budget.
Watkins said there are other areas the commission should focus on to address looming financial constraints. The amount of money those 10 agencies receive is not significant when dealing with a $164 million budget, he added.
“With our budget problems, we’re talking about the wrong things,” Watkins said. “That’s not going to make or break the county from a financial standpoint whether or not we fund less than $1 million to nonprofit organizations.”
Allen said commissioners like Watkins who oppose his plan also will question how to get the county out of a financial bind next year.
“Next year, unless we start doing something new, these same individuals that will vote against this will say, ‘What are we going to do? Where do we get the money?’ ” Allen said.
The 10 agencies that would be impacted are:
- Meals on Wheels $47,300
- Middle Georgia Community Food Bank $15,400
- Douglas Theatre $85,000
- Museum of Arts and Sciences $180,000
- Tubman Museum $180,000
- Macon Arts Alliance $35,000
- Georgia Sports Hall of Fame $85,000
- Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful $90,000
- Macon-Bibb County Citizens Advocacy $4,500
- Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council $40,000