Macon Commissioners Approve Community Funding Pool

At their April regular meeting, the Macon County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the community funding pool’s recommendations to award 13 local non-profit agencies a portion of the $75,000 set aside in the county’s current budget. On behalf of the funding pool, long time community funding pool board member, Karen Wallace presented the commissioners their recommendations for the disbursement of this year’s non-profit funding.

This year, 17 agencies submitted grant applications for funding of projects in Macon County totaling $129,623. With only $75,000 set aside in the current budget for non-profit funding, the community funding pool had to make some tough decisions as to the best way to disburse the county funding. Through a process of reviewing the applications and discussion with task force members, 13 agencies were recommended to receive funding.

The 13 agencies which were selected to receive funding from the county included:

Arts Council of Macon County – funding for community arts programs $3,804

Community Care Clinic of Franklin, Inc. – funding for free medical clinic operations $7,739

Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers – funding for prescription medication support $6,726

Highlands Community Child Development Center – funding for nursery renovation $5,713

Kids InterDisciplinary Services, Inc. (KIDS Place) – funding for child abuse collaborative $9,518

Literacy Council of Highlands – funding for in-school tutoring $3,544

Macon County Humane Society – funding for spay/neuter, sprinkler system, and sick room cages $5,635

Macon Program for Progress – funding for parents as teachers program $7,718

Mountain Mediation Services – funding for Macon Mediation Project $4,497

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – funding for peer to peer services $945

REACH of Macon County – funding for victim services project $9,175

Read2Me – funding for Dolly Parton Imagination Library $3,546

Teen Challenge of the Smokies – funding for residential addiction recovery program $6,440

One of the agencies that requested funding but wasn’t selected was the Macon Fair Association which requested $10,000 to replace roofing on structures at the fairgrounds. While the task forces felt the project was worthy of funding, they felt the county should consider funding the project independently from the community funding pool. The task force felt the fair association’s project to replace the roofing was a worthwhile project but not in the same category as the other agency’s projects.

The other three agencies requesting funding but not recommended by the community funding pool included Macon County Art Association $4,000 for art adventures, Macon New Beginnings $10,000 for homeless housing and the Scottish Tartan Museum $3,673 for exhibit protection.

This year, the process to distribute the non-profit funding was delayed as the task force was under revision and had to work through logistics and procedures under the revision. Working with the county attorney and manager, the task force is in the process of the development of bylaws for the community funding pool. In addition, the commission appointed 13 new committee members for the task force.

“We are really looking forward to the bylaws,” said Wallace. “With a lot of new members, we are really looking for the guidance the new bylaws will give us.”

One recommendation of the community funding pool is that the county consider directly funding the agencies that apply for and receive funding every year. It is the recommendation of the task force that these agencies be funded as regular budget items rather than be considered in the community funding pool.

“There are a couple of agencies that apply every year for funding through the community funding pool, and we would really like to approach the commission that you consider funding some of these agencies directly and not through the community funding pool task force,” said Wallace.

“There is a wide discrepancy of non-profit agencies in our community; some are very established programs and very valuable programs with a long track record, and we think they have the earned the possibility for the commission to consider funding them directly through special appropriations,” she added. “There are other non-profits that are really just getting started, they have no paid staff and don’t have a long track record or if they do, they have a lot of turnover because it is a volunteer staff and board; those folks need the assistance of the community task force dollars to help them get established and accomplish their projects.”

“For the years I’ve been here, it is never easy, and it seems to get tougher,” said Vice Chairman Ronnie Beale. “I read the recommendations of the community funding pool, and I agree that at budget time we need to have the discussion that agencies that are placed in the funding pool year after year and basically end up getting funded need to be a line item in the budget.”