Johnson City Commissioners decided last week to slash city funding for a number of nonprofit service agencies. Commissioners Ralph Van Brocklin, Phil Carriger and Clayton Stout voted to cut $12,000 from Frontier Health and $5,000 from Carter County Tomorrow.
Mayor Jeff Banyas and Commissioner Jane Myron voted against those cuts, as well as opposed cutting 10 percent each from allocations going to Girls Inc. and 24 other community agencies.
As Press staff writer Rex Barber reported last week, the cuts mean 10 girls will not be able to participate in after-school and summer programs at Girls Inc.
These cuts are brutal. The agencies impacted are already struggling to fund their budgets. Most have seen their donations drop while requests for services have increased dramatically.
The loss of city funding will be felt by the most needy and vulnerable citizens of our community.
City leaders say the cuts must be made to address fiscal realities. Even so, Banyas pointed out to his colleagues last week that the city lacks firm guidelines when it comes to who gets special funding and when. We think commissioners should base such decisions on the answers to these two questions:
1. Will the program or service fill an essential need the city does not address currently?
2. Will allocating money to the program help save tax dollars in the future?
The cuts this year might make sense if the entire $68,000 to be saved from the move was staying in the city’s coffers, but it isn’t. Instead, $50,000 will be going to the Washington County/Johnson City Veterans Memorial.
Carriger points out this is a one-time appropriation to a worthy cause. We certainly agree the memorial is indeed a wonderful project, but is it the best use of the city’s limited tax dollars at this time?
How many more young girls might be helped this fall if just a portion of those dollars were going to Girls Inc.?