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Carter County non-profit funding back in budget plans

By Slater TeagueJayonna Scurry,


ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — After it appeared that funding for non-profits would be left out of next year’s budget , the Carter County Budget Committee has decided to put the funding back in.

During a Budget Committee meeting Thursday night, county commissioners unanimously decided to restore the funding.

However, county leaders are considering phasing out funding for those non-profits.

Elizabethton Senior Center Executive Director Brittany Shell says phasing out funds would at least give the senior center time to prepare.

“It is my understanding that funding will gradually be phased out, but at least I have that year to prepare and I need that,” said Shell. “So cold turkey was what all the panic was about.”

However, Senior Center Board Member Maryann Owen said phasing out funds would still be “devastating.”

“We had an emergency board meeting yesterday,” said Owen. “And if there’s no funds and we can’t supply that deficit that they’re going to phase out, then the senior center can’t be open. They can’t be open five days a week. It’s not going to have all the events that Brittany and Leann has moved into the center. “

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Shell says it’s essential to provide services to seniors in the community.

“Seniors are taxpaying citizens that have worked and built this community, and it is our job as a community to support them and provide a sanctuary for them.” said Shell. “It is not a charity. It is a service that seniors are worthy and deserving of.”

Owen, who is also the adult services and outreach coordinator at the Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library, also believes senior centers are essential.

“I personally don’t understand how the senior center cannot be essential. I mean, we are known as a retirement place. Everyone’s coming here to retire,” said Owen.

Shell says they are already preparing for the potential future phase-out.

“So, we are going to prepare and implement plans within that year to start getting ready to lose that funding,” said Shell. “We are not a 501(C)(3). We are an agency of the city. So, it is more difficult for us to apply for grants, even though I apply for every grant I can. It’s harder for me to get certain grants because I’m not a 501(C)(3).”

Shell says many of the senior center members have reached out to the Carter County Commission. She encourages people to still reach out.

“They’ve been emailing,” said Shell. “They’ve been phone calling. They’ve been really reaching out to their commissioners and using their voices. And I think people in the community especially people my age, need to not be apathetic to what is happening, because not only for our current seniors that need these services, we want this to be around for when we’re a senior and we need those services.”

Shell is grateful for the commissioners deciding to leave the funding in this upcoming budget.

“I thank them so much and I do what I do out of wanting to protect our seniors,” said Shell. “And I am their voice and I want to give them a sanctuary to come to and I will fight for them.”

Owen believes non-profits having support is important to the community.

“When communities have support, the people thrive,” said Owen. “And nonprofits and outside agencies are the ones that keep people from falling into the cracks.”

Carter County Commissioner Bob Acuff said where the funding will come from and how much will be set aside for non-profits will not be decided until after the budget is finished.

The committee will meet again on Thursday, June 8.

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