Montgomery County commissioners approve nonprofit funding in 2020 budget

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Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved restoring $450,000 to four county nonprofits in the 2020 budget, after commissioners had previously planned a six-month reduction to those funds.

Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts proposed carrying contingency funds from the 2019 budget to cover funding to the four entities for the 2020 budget year. Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley’s agreed to split $134,844 for Meals on Wheels, and contingency funds will also cover $203,952.50 for Montgomery County Youth Services, $109,562 for the Crisis Assistance Center and $6,250 for the Montgomery County Women’s Center.

The proposal was approved 3-2 by the court. Meador, Riley and Metts voted in favor of the funding and Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack and County Judge Mark Keough voted against. Riley also requested to schedule a budgeting workshop with local nonprofits in February 2020 to learn more about their operations and how county funding affects them. He said the commissioners’ budget decision was not made to intentionally harm the groups.

“The people that run these organizations are very, very dedicated, and we’re not throwing you to the wolves,” Meador said. “We were just trying to reach an effective tax rate and this is one cut that we thought we could do for about six months.”

Keough added that he strongly supports community-driven nonprofits, but didn’t vote in favor of Metts’ proposal due to budgeting procedure.

“We are not anti-nonprofits, we are not trying to be uncompassionate, we are not taking away the funding,” Keough said. “This is not about whether or not we have nonprofits or don’t. It’s more of a function, to me anyway, of how we go about doing it.”

Noack said he voted against the measure due to the singling out of certain organizations for funding, and he suggested that the lowered tax rate resulting from the proposed budget could encourage county residents to donate more to nonprofits.

“I think everybody appreciates the work that all these organizations do. I still find it difficult to pick certain organizations over others,” he said. “I still believe we put the power back in the hands of the taxpayers, we put $9.8 million collectively in their hands … and I would like to see our community and our society come together and take care of their own.”

Commissioners’ approval of the additional funding Tuesday came after more than a dozen citizens spoke about the nonprofit during the court’s public comment. Nonprofit representatives and private citizens shared their thoughts, with the majority speaking in support of the county’s continued financial contributions.

“We fully support our legislative system and ask that it continue to be a voice for those who do not or can no longer speak,” said Summer Day, executive director of Meals on Wheels Montgomery County.

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