published Monday, October 1st, 2012

Marion County approves funds for nonprofits

JASPER, Tenn. — When Marion County found itself with a $1.5 million budget shortfall in 2011, many nonprofit and charitable organizations got their funding slashed in an effort to fill the gap.

Now, the Marion County Commission is making strides to return that funding to its original level.

Last week, the board voted unanimously to appropriate $449,226 to the various nonprofit and charitable organizations that the county traditionally has supported.

Finance Committee Chairman Don Adkins said money was cut "across the board" for nonprofit and charitable organizations, but "each entity is reviewed independently."

"We're at 75 percent from where we were two years ago," he said. "There are a few organizations that are exceptions."

Exceptions to the 25 percent reduction include the county's library system and the health department, officials said, and that funding is normally mandated by the state.

The county's rural volunteer fire departments lost all of their $193,000 in funding.

The board voted to reinstate 25 percent of that money in September 2011, and approved another 25 percent increase in February.

"Those volunteer organizations that we had cut from last year's budget came back in various stages," Commission Chairman Les Price said. "Part of that money was reinstated. Then we came back and reinstated more. Now this takes us back up to 75 percent [of what we were originally funding them]."

Officials said the Marion County Rescue Squad and Marion County Emergency Management are back at 75 percent of their original funding as well.

Adkins was not able to give exact numbers on how much funding each of the rural volunteer fire departments would get because that money is based on the number of households an organization serves.

"Right now, there will be an increase across the board for all the [volunteer fire department] organizations," he said.

The board the 2012-13 budget, which shows an estimated $4.9 million fund balance by the end of the term.

Price recommended nonprofit organizations like the rural volunteer fire departments come back to the commission's Finance Committee and "ask for some more [money] later."

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