This year’s budget has just started, but the DeFuniak Springs City Council has already begun talking about how to address next year’s funds. They held a workshop to discuss the funds given to non-profit groups. DeFuniak Springs is one of the last governments in Walton to still help a variety of organizations who request it. The discussion was to find a way to fund groups and do so in a fair way and how to prioritize the money against the city’s other financial needs.
Councilman Kermit Wright called the meeting to consider the organization requests. He said the recent budget process had the funding requests from organizations at the very beginning of the budget process, at the start of the workshops. He said he believes in the 501c3’s, but feels they have the cart before the horse. Wright said the requests and determination of how much to give should be moved to the latter part of the process. He said they should consider their employees first and the other needs of the city, then look at what is left. Wright noted the city has been going into the arrears and will likely do so next year. He said the measures they have been working on should help, but he finds it hard to disperse taxpayer’s money when they are borrowing from the reserves. He said this is just not right. Wright suggested moving the budget workshop schedule to consider the organization requests to the last part of the process. He also suggested seeing a change in how the funds are disbursed, recommending using the number of citizens served. He said the percentage of the total would be on the amount served.
Council member Mac Work cited financial reports turned in by organizations. He noted Okaloosa-Walton Child care Services were funded $570, but has a total of over a million in funds they work with. He said the Walton Area Chamber was given free rent and money, but made over $80,000. He asked why they are funding organizations that make so much money. Work said there are some that are there, such as Little League, who fill in the gap for services the city or county sometimes provide.
Wright said it is unknown how they got to where they are. He said they have to make changes going into the future. He said the county has elected not to fund, but the city still does. He wants those that cater to the residents of the city be funded and the county residents would benefit too.
Member Ron Kelley said he agrees with both. He said there are organizations they give to that really do not need it. He also agrees they should be looking further into the process. He said he is not against donating to good causes. Kelley also feels total attendance should be considered.
Council member Wayne Graham said he would like to take it on a case by case basis next year. He would like to look at what the organization is making. He said the groups can be part of the life of the city. Kelley agreed with looking at them one at a time.
Mayor Harold Carpenter said attendance is important to him. He said they should base it on attendance. Carpenter also said they should base it on the cash flow. He also noted some are permanently supplied with rent. The Mayor said all these are important and the free rent does not bother him as much as the cash flow does. Wright said they should consider rent on another night, but told the members they should at least cover the cost. He said they should never waive the cost. This should be on the agenda Monday night.