Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Final Council Non-Profit Tally: 80% of Discretionary "Infrastructure Funds" Spent on Non-Profits

A couple of media sources are buzzing about the large amount of Metro Council discretionary funds spent in 2006-2007 on non-profit organizations. Readers of Enclave will remember that I have been following that public/private giveaway now month by month since last fall.

Of the original $1.95 million that Metro Council approved for itself last summer, they spent $1,870,954. Of the amount actually spent, not much went to public infrastructure:

  • Total spent on private non-profits: $1,489,735 (79.6%)
  • Total spent on actual public infrastructure and/or services: $381,219 (20.4%)
So, the lion's share of these property tax dollars collected were not spent on programs of broad public purpose. In October, I indicated that the trend towards non-profit earmarks did not look good in that it moved closer to 100% than to zero (or how about even to 50%?). $1.4 million dollars is a lot of public money to send to non-profits, especially when the budget just approved has something like $4 million in private earmarks.

Some council members will object that the $226,567 that went to the Nashville Alliance for Public Education should not really count on the non-profit side of the ledger, because the Metro Charter does not allow them to send discretionary funds directly to the Board of Education for funding school infrastructure. That's fine. I'll accept the validity of their claim.

However, they should likewise explain to us how two-thirds of all discretionary funds ended up going to to private non-profits. Placing those Alliance funds on the public side of the ledger may legally pay for some library books, but it still leaves council earmarking less than one-third of all infrastructure funds for actual infrastructure.

This council has zero credibility on criticizing the Mayor's management of money when they cannot even manage their own discretionary funds for anything else than a private money grab for charitable organizations who are connected to particular council members.

1 comment:

  1. The WPLN link is interesting, as it lists all the recipients of these funds. I'm not really comfortable with any of these entities receiving direct government gifts. These are private charitable organizations, not government programs. It's not as though they're contractors being paid for services rendered to the government, like a road contractor. Isn't it our job to give to charities? What process selects the winners and losers of this government largesse? Surely there is public infrastructure that needs maintenance or improvement. If such uses can't be found, the money should be refunded to taxpayers, or saved for future uses.