Commission Could Stop Non-Profit Donations because of Budget Crunch

(Memphis) This year, the Shelby County Commission is giving more than a million dollars to non-profits.

That’s being done as commissioners are over a hundred million dollars in the hole because of the merging school districts.

At least one commissioner says they may have to cut out grants to non-profits this year because the demands on the budget are simply too high, “We could be anywhere from ninety million to possibly a hundred forty million starting in the red,” said Commissioner Heidi Shafer.

Shafer says it’s time to get back to the basics and only fund what they are required to by law, because that’s all they can afford, “We’re required to fund K-12 education, we’re required to run jails, we’re required to have police and fire.”

Cutting back in every other area is on the table.

Commissioners are even looking at a property tax hike but that will only make a dent in the shortfall.

Shafer says they can only raise taxes so much because everyone’s paychecks are getting smaller, and everything is costing more, “Taxing folks and taking that money to give to non-profits is not as efficient as just letting folks give to non-profits directly.”

Big brothers Big Sisters of Memphis is one of the thirteen non-profits that will be impacted by cutting non-profit grants.

This year they got a hundred thousand dollars by the Shelby County Commission and they were able to add one hundred children and mentor partnerships.

“The investment that I feel was given by the Shelby County Commission to support Big Brothers Big Sisters was well appropriated and well used,” said Big Brothers Big Sister CEO Adrienne Bailey.

Bailey says mentoring makes a difference in the community and is just as important as any other county project, “Memphis has a history of being short sided. And with a lot of our elected officials you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face basically.”

Non-profits apply to the government for grants and commissioners pick which ones to fund.

Shafer says she expects this will be a tough sell because everyone can agree on the importance of giving to non-profits, but she doesn’t believe this is the best time to be giving out grants when they can’t even afford to pay for their necessities.

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