As we experience a reduction of government resources to fund nonprofit organizations, you will see this question asked more often. It is no secret that the Brevard County Commissioners have already set in motion a plan to phase out extremely meager public grants to nonprofits under the guise that these funds are needed to pay for the paving of roads.
Everyone has a right to his own opinion as to how roads and other public works should be underwritten, but to completely eliminate funding for needed community services, especially those serving the elderly and frail elders, should be questioned by all who pay taxes. Seniors comprise almost 50% of Brevard taxpayers and to eliminate the ridiculously low funding now in place should signal a huge “Maggie’s drawers” to them and to the 75,000 veterans in Brevard. A Maggie’s drawers is a red flag used to indicate a complete miss on the firing range, and eliminating funds for nonprofits is a huge Maggie’s drawers.
Maybe we are not asking the right questions when trying to find money to pay bills. I would question why Palm Bay needs a separate Veterans Center when there is a wonderful Veterans Office in Viera. Or why two assistant county managers were recently hired and new funding developed for these positions. Why not reallocate some of the approximately 230 county positions that are funded but not filled? Better still, why not eliminate some of these positions altogether and use those funds to pay for road repairs?
I planned to write this article on charitable giving. However, once I started typing, I quickly thought about the recent actions to defund wonderful nonprofits that assist many in need. For twenty years I have watched organizations compete against each other for United Way and county funding. Generally speaking it is the same few organizations who manage to receive this funding, much of it going to children’s causes. Yet when I asked the staff at Brevard Public Schools what happened to the money raised by the recent sales tax, the answer came back to me in code. I doubt we will ever know the exact expenditure of those funds.
Why am I concerned? Because if someone does not ask this question early on, the current plan to eliminate nonprofit funds will be a fait accompli. With each election I have heard candidates for County Commissioner express their thoughts on how we can save money. The reality is that we just shift it around and, as some say, “kick the can down the road.” When will those kicking toes get tired and real action be taken to hold county staff accountable for the expenditure of our tax dollars?
My hope here is not to offend those allocating taxpayers’ money but to ask them to start thinking about our ability to provide services for those seniors and frail elderly that will require care in the years ahead. And, maybe we do need to increase taxes to adequately fund needed services.
Joe Steckler is the President of Helping Seniors of Brevard, a non profit organization designed to advocate, educate, and fundraise on behalf of Brevard’s senior citizens. Feel free to contact us at: [email protected] or calling: 321-473-7770