The INSIDER Column: Dodging the Tax Syphon

posted by Bill Mick - 

We got lucky.  This time.

The Children’s Services Council was at the Tuesday County Commission meeting with its hand out for tax dollar funding.  The motion to put a tax hike on the ballot in November for this cause did not get a second from the commissioners and it died a quick death.  For now.

I’ve seen it too much in the political realm.  You have, too.  A tax idea for some worthy cause doesn’t pass and suddenly you see it again in front of the body that turned it down or on the ballot for another shot at the apple.  I would expect the same here.

I don’t know all the whys and wherefores, but this has been a statewide effort.  Leon and Orange counties turned down their CSC’s last week.  I am glad Brevard did Tuesday.  But this is no coincidence that multiple counties have been facing this same decision all at the same time.  Someone or several someones has gotten the idea that these organizations, at least here in Brevard surviving since 1990 with no tax funding from the county, now need to be wards of the county.  Someone wants them to be, in essence, defacto county agencies.  

Brevard is in the second year of eliminating charitable organization funding from the county budget.  The five year step down is in year 2.  Now, another group apparently seeing itself more worthy than others wants to step in and get the money that is being stopped.  

No!

This is not about the function of the CSC or any other charitable group.  I sat on the Board of the Salvation Army and was against the county “donating” tax dollars to that very worthy cause.  This is a question of understanding the function of government and what is and is not government’s job.  We may disagree there, but you’ll be hard pressed to convince me that an organization that has survived since 1990 suddenly needs county tax dollars and that this is a  function of government that has been done without tax dollar participation up until now.  

Competition for charitable donations is fierce.  It’s a tough world for nonprofits these days.  That is true for all of them, no matter what causes they serve.  And that doesn’t mean going to government to get the money is what they should be doing.  They need to work to convince the donating public of their worthiness and maybe consider consolidating with other “competing” entities to strengthen their appeal and reach.

Government has enough to do and little enough with which to do it.  The basic question is: is this government’s job or not?  If the answer is no, hit the phones, have a bake sale or a ball and do what the other charities do, work for it.


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