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City slashes donations
Finance Committee moves to cut charitable funding

McMinnville officials may slash monetary donations to local nonprofits, cutting seven charitable organizations out entirely.

Warren County’s Emergency Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Caring Hearts United, Kids of the Community, Books from Birth, Habitat for Humanity, and Business Roundtable Action Committee (BRAC) will receive no funding from the city of McMinnville, unless a change is made.

The city Finance Committee met on Friday to discuss nonprofit donations for fiscal year 2022-23 and voiced that government employees needed to come first this year. Due to increasing turnover rate among employees, a new pay scale is being instituted that will add $744,096 to the budget in wage adjustments.

“What we are doing is focusing on our employees and spending taxpayers’ dollars where they asked us to spend it, on paving and sidewalks,” said Alderman Everett Brock. Alderman Steve Harvey stated, “These are great organizations. They all are.”

“This isn’t an indication of what we’ll do next year,” said Alderman Zach Sutton. “I urge all these nonprofits to continue to apply.”

Several organizations had their funding cut, but not entirely.

Warren County Chamber of Commerce requested $50,080 and an additional $55,000 earmarked for tourism, for a combined request of $105,080. Approved was $69,500.

Main Street McMinnville requested $40,000 – unchanged from previous requests. Approved was $35,000.

Black History Museum of Warren County requested $17,000. It received $15,000 last year. Approved was $10,000.

Families in Crisis requested $10,000 – unchanged from previous requests. Approved was $8,000.

Some charitable organizations missed the chopping block.

Warren County Rescue Squad requested $6,294, which the city traditionally provides to pay for its insurance. That donation remained unchanged.

Magness Library requested $68,000 for maintenance of effort, an amount the city cannot cut. It also asked for an additional $10,000 as a one-time contribution to purchase computers. Those donations remained unchanged.

Tourism Development Board, by ordinance, receives the city’s lodging tax charged by local hotels and motels, and rents called Airbnbs. Considered a pass-thru donation, that amount was estimated at $70,000.

Some organizations fared better than others.

Young Men United received more than last year, but less than requested for the upcoming year. Approved in fiscal year 2021-22 was $10,000. Requested was an increase to $17,000. Approved was $12,750.

Homeless Effort of McMinnville also received more than last year, but less than requested. Approved in fiscal year 2021-22 was $10,040. Requested was an increase to $19,100. Approved was $8,000.

Warren County Senior Citizens Center requested $30,000, a $1,000 increase from the previous year. That request was approved.

Two new organizations made their way onto the list, but only one received funding. McMinnville Special Games requested $10,000. Approved was $5,000. Beersheba Spring Medical Clinic requested $5,000, but that request was rejected.

Payments to dues remained unchanged: Warren County Chamber of Commerce $5,000, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency $2,895, and Upper Cumberland Development District $2,895.

Brock says the majority of the cuts were made with the knowledge that those organizations had “money in the bank” and would not be financially devastated by the city’s decision. He stated that Meals on Wheels has $248,000, the Food Bank has $112,000, BRAC has $172,000, Kids of the Community has $242,000, and Habitat for Humanity has $170,000.

“That’s not assets,” said Brock. “That’s money in the bank. If we’ve made a mistake and this decision will devastate the organization, they can contact us.”

Sensing that the cuts would not be well received, officials did make a change. Historically, one meeting of the city Finance Committee was held to review nonprofit requests (a time when representatives are invited to attend and given time to speak) and then, members would vote. This year that process was divided into two meetings.

A Finance Committee meeting was held on Monday, May 16 to listen to nonprofit requests. No decisions made. The second meeting of the committee was held on Friday, May 20 to discuss the requests and vote.

Brock stated that change was make to “get out of the pressure cooker” and allow committee members to make decisions without feeling pressured on how much to give.

The Finance Committee’s decision on nonprofit allocations for fiscal year 2022-23 is a recommendation to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.