A glitch by McMinnville officials in giving a nonprofit organization $2,500 for a program that no longer exists has been settled.
Finance Committee members unanimously voted for the money to go back into the city’s general fund. The decision was made by Ken Smith and Mike Neal. Vice Mayor Ben Newman was absent.
The situation arose when the McMinnville-Warren County Senior Center asked officials for $2,500 to fund a program called Sunny Day Adult Daycare. The funds were awarded. However, the program ended prior to the actual transfer of money and the funding was held in limbo.
Senior Center director Cheryl Watson Mingle says one person participated in the program during the first quarter of the year, which was July to September, so the decision was made to officially cancel the program Oct. 1.
Watson asked officials for the entire $2,500 for use by the facility, or $625 for the first quarter that the program was in existence.
Smith says the city will relinquish $625, if the organization can provide proof the program was in existence in the first quarter.
“If they were in existence and providing services to one person, I would feel obligated to provide one-quarter of the $2,500,” Smith said. “That would leave about $1,875, if my math is correct.”
Officials received requests from other nonprofit organizations asking for the donation.
“All of them are certainly worthy,” said Smith. “On the other hand, I looked at the fact that if we were to give the money to one of the nonprofits or divide it among those who asked, then what we’ve done is set a precedent that could come back to bite us.”
Smith says he is concerned a nonprofit given additional funding would expect that same amount next year, or the nonprofits not given any extra this year would be upset. Given the controversy the decision might create, Smith suggested the money remain in the general fund.
“I think the best thing to do would be to leave that extra money in the general fund for the 2012-13 fiscal year,” said Smith.
City administrator David Rutherford agreed with the decision and brought forth a legal problem with re-disbursing the donation to other nonprofits.
“When you get next year’s budget, you will find all those nonprofits with zero dollars,” said Rutherford. “Staff makes no recommendation. When you do make a donation, state law requires us to publish those in the newspaper after the ordinance has passed. To do any changing in that, you have to go back and redo that.”
Officials are not obligated to fund nonprofit organizations. Donations were cut entirely a few years ago, after a recommendation by Rutherford. He reiterated that suggestion Thursday night.
“I don’t think it is right for you as elected officials to take taxpayers money and start dividing it up to who gets what,” said Rutherford. “There are things we have to do by law, but other than that, it’s best if the public funds those nonprofits.”
No decision was made about future donations. However, the committee’s decision on reverting the $2,500 back into the general fund, less $625 if the Senior Center provides proof of operation in the first quarter, is final.