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City considers increasing donations to nonprofits
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It appears McMinnville officials might increase their donations to nonprofits this year. Under consideration is giving $251,079 to nonprofits, a figure that’s up by $22,147.
The city’s Finance Committee met Thursday night to review donation requests from local nonprofits for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Requests totaled $438,571.
“I know what we’ve been asked for. Everybody saw that and was duly stunned, I guess,” said Finance Committee chairman Everett Brock.
While a couple of the organizations funded last year asked for the same amount this year, the majority of them asked for an even larger donation. Also, the city received new requests from five organizations.
Brock’s suggestion on funding:
Sister Cities – $4,000, down $1,000 from last year but $6,000 less than requested.
Main Street McMinnville – $40,000, unchanged from last year and the amount requested.
Families In Crisis – $5,000, unchanged from last year but $5,000 less than requested.
BRAC – $8,000, up $250 from last year, but $2,000 less than requested.
Chamber/ tourism – $50,000, up $5,000 from last year but $23,000 less than requested.
Meals on Wheels – $2,000, down $3,000 from last year. The organization requested $5,000.
Senior Center – $25,000, up $12,500 from last year, but $15,000 less than requested.
Food Bank – $3,000, unchanged from last year but $2,000 less than requested.
Heritage Alliance – $1,000, up $500 from last year and the amount requested.
Rescue Squad – $6,000, down $103 from last year but $23,097 less than requested.
IDB – $35,000, down $5,000 from last year but $90,000 less than requested.
Caring Hearts United – $1,000, new request this year for $6,000.
Young Men United – $3,000, new request this year for $4,500.
Kids of the Community – $2,000, new request this year for $8,115.
Books from Birth – $1,000, new request this year for $10,000.
The list included donations the city is required to make: Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) dues of $2,721; Chamber dues of $5,500; Magness Library of $48,000; and Upper Cumberland Development District of $2,858.
Brock’s list provided no donation to The Eagle Fund, a $1,280 new request from The Black House this year, and did not give the additional $1,500 requested by UCHRA. While the UCHRA dues are required by law, the additional amount is not.
Brock’s suggested donations totaled $245,079 and amounted to 2.3 percent of the city’s estimated revenue for fiscal year 2015-16.
“You are within $3,500 of what I’ve written down,” said Alderman Mike Neal.
Mayor Jimmy Haley questioned the donation to the Rescue Squad.
“I things the Rescue Squad is asking money from us to do involve rehabbing the building they are in, which the city owns,” said Brock. “Rather than giving them money as a donation, I suggest we take the money out of administration and make those improvements. I think that would be a better idea. They need a new overhead door, two new entrance doors, flooring is in bad shape, the parking lot is falling apart. Maybe we can get that paved when we are doing our paving. It’s fairly small.”
Vice Mayor Ben Newman questioned the donation to Meals on Wheels.
“I went and talked to them,” said Brock. “I asked them, after they had their fundraiser with Back to the Strip Night, would there be any problem if we backed off their donation? They said that’s not a problem. They said they did well on that and made $25,000 plus. They had, and I forget how much, but thousands of pounds of food donated.”
Newman asked about Sister Cities.
“I went down to $4,000, but if you want to go back up to $5,000, we can do that,” said Brock.
Alderman Steve Harvey questioned IDB.
“Frankly, when we asked questions in the committee meeting, I couldn’t get any answers as to why they wanted it,” said Brock. “That’s number one. Number two, I was a little bit stunned to find out that the several hundred thousand dollars we had with them is no longer there. What they used it for, I do not know.”
The fund Brock mentioned has been an area of contention between the city and IDB for years. More than $600,000 from the sale of properties deeded to IDB by the city was being held in the fund. The fund was supposed to be used for industrial development inside the city limits. 
Newman added, “We had Wilson Cutting that went in inside the city limits. That was one of the things I think it went toward.”
“Well, they won’t tell me that,” said Brock. “The answer I got was it’s gone.”
Brock says he was given the IDB’s audit figures for 2014, leading him to feel they didn’t want to share that information with him.
City attorney Tim Pirtle says the city has a right to the IDB’s financial information.
“That fund was contractually placed in their hands and specifically earmarked for industrial development within the city,” said Pirtle. “The city has every right to any and all information that it requests about the use of those funds. The city is entitled to a full accounting.”
Pirtle was asked to look into the fund after IDB officials asked to use the money, or at least part of it, on administrative costs.
Newman wanted to increase Brock’s suggested donation to IDB.
“I would like to give them what they got last year, if not a little bit more,” said Newman. “I understand if others don’t want to. Just because they didn’t give you everything you wanted. Maybe there’s a miscommunication there. I would like to do $45,000. If not, at least $40,000.”
Committee members agreed to $40,000 for IDB.
Brock denied a communication problem, but agreed with a committee decision to increase the donation to $40,000.
When asked his thoughts, Neal stated, “I don’t think anyone should be given more than 10 percent over what we gave last year. And I want to help folks that are helping a lot of folks. I want to get the biggest bang for our buck. Some of these that are just helping a handful of folks I don’t have a problem cutting those if we can help a bunch of folks somewhere else.”
Alderman Jimmy Bonner asked about the Senior Center.
“That was my largest increase and I’ll tell you why,” said Brock. “They are close to not being able to keep the doors open over there. They are facing a problem of having a shortfall of about $30,000 this year. Last year, their internal fundraisers, which they worked themselves to the bone to get, got them less than $10,000. There is no way they are going to be able to convert that $10,000 into $30,000. I’m not saying we have to do this every year, but I do believe this is one we need to go after. They work with a tremendous amount of people.”
Committee members Brock, Neal and Newman unanimously approved the suggested donations with a $5,000 increase to IDB and a $1,000 increase to Sister Cities, bringing both back up to what was given last year.
Their recommendation will be sent to the full city board for its consideration.