Hard Decisions of Local Governments Hit Nonprofits

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May 26, 2011; Source: The Tennessean | In Tennessee, Sumner County is looking to pass a balanced budget for the third year in a row without raising taxes. But they also want to give their 560 county employees some kind of raise since they have not had one in three years. Even if the raise were only 2 percent it would cost $500,000 so the county commissioners have tentatively put $304,000 in funding to local nonprofits on the chopping block to make room in the budget.

Meanwhile in Maui, the county decided to pass on raising the minimum property tax from $150 to $300 as had been proposed and cut the grants to some nonprofits instead. The property tax increase had been opposed by local farmers because many own multiple parcels of land and each would have been taxed separately.

Ironically, one of the nonprofits that stands to be cut is the Maui County Farm Bureau. Warren Watanabe, MCFB’s executive director said he sees the issue from both sides but reduced funding to his organization would interfere with its "ability to fulfill our mission and programs that assist our present and future farmers and ranchers," he said in an email. The Farm Bureau is not the only nonprofit slated for the chopping block that has economic impact. Also slated for cuts are Maui Economic Opportunity and Maui Visitor’s Bureau.

Similar scenes are likely to be playing out all over the country. – Ruth McCambridge