Magistrate: Tax dollars shouldn’t go to charities

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County government budgets $35,000 to support charities

By Tracy Harris

Members of Oldham County Fiscal Court frequently vote unanimously on various issues – but not when it comes to the county’s non-profit donations.

Magistrates voted 6-3 to approve grants for five local agencies totaling $15,000 at their Nov. 20 meeting.

Magistrates JD Sparks, Michael Logsdon and Bob Dye voted against approving the grants, brought forth by members of the human resources committee.

The grants are going to the Oldham County chapter of the American Red Cross, the Arts Association of Oldham County, the Hope Health Clinic, Tri-County Community Action Agency and the Veterans Memorial of Kentucky.

The money comes from a $35,000 line item in the budget under social services.

Logsdon chairs the committee but is opposed to the grants. Magistrate Robert Leslie recommended approval to fiscal court.

When magistrates voted on the budget in June, JD Sparks spoke against grant funding.

“I still maintain we shouldn’t be giving money to charity,” he said. 

Sparks stood by that statement at the Nov. 20 meeting and Logsdon agreed.

“We should spend money on the betterment of all of the county, not just a few,” he said. 

Both said they want to support non-profits, but don’t believe support should come from with taxpayer dollars.

However, the county supports several other non-profits.

Oldham Chamber and Economic Development receives $115,000 annually from Oldham County government and is a 501(c)(6) non-profit. 

There are 29 types of 501(c) organizations grouped by category — (c)(6) organizations are specifically business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards and similar groups.

The HDB Service Group, which operates Oldham’s Public Bus — OPIE — receives $55,000 annually from fiscal court. The organization receives a federal grant that requires local matching funds, which are provided by the county and La Grange city governments.

Magistrate Wayne Theiss said he doesn’t believe the grants are wasteful.

Judge-Executive David Voegele agrees.

“The community expects us to support the safety net,” he said. “If we wait for volunteers to step up and help all the needy, we’re going to have a lot of needy perish.”

Despite Oldham County’s reputation as being one of the state’s wealthiest in terms of household income, Voegele said there are still residents who need assistance from groups like the Tri-County Community Action Agency and Hope Health Clinic.

Tri-County Community Action Agency provides services for low-income residents and seniors. The Hope Health Clinic provides medical care for uninsured residents.

Voegele said the arts association is an economic development generator.

And, the Veterans Memorial Park of Kentucky is receiving a donation to offset the cost for organizers to use the county’s new eCivis grant application database.

He said all the grant recipients are worthy of county support.

“I don’t believe we’ll ever be sorry for helping them,” he said. “It’s not near what we’ve done in the past.”

Likins added that a number of organizations who applied for grants were turned down this year.