Commission votes 'no' on donations
After the two and a half hour marathon meeting and several items coming up for discussion, there were very few people pleased with the outcomes of Monday night's County Commission meeting.
The main item to come up in front of the commission was the VFW/American Legion donations that were tabled during the November meeting. The donations were to present the VFW with a $3,500 donation and American Legion with a $1,500 donation from the General Fund.
Resolution No. 2012-100-301 and No. 2012-100-302 stated "these funds shall be used to provide year round services benefiting the general welfare of the residents of Trousdale County."
Like in November, commissioners commented that they were in favor of the donations and the veterans, but felt the way the donations were presented to the county court was the problem.
Several citizens including Carla Ferraro, Chris Verville, Tony Butts and Chuck Taylor spoke to the commission about the donations.
"Each and every time we raise taxes…each and every time we come up with something else to pay for on behalf of us taxpayers, they cannot financially afford it," said Ferraro. "I am a veteran…and I know the struggles that they face raising funds. I do believe that they can raise funds with the help of individuals. I don't oppose them getting money for donations. I just oppose them getting taxpayers donations, money when we just had a tax increase…and them being asked over and over for increases."
Verille, Butts and Taylor spoke to the commission why it would be important for the commission to lend their support behind the two organizations.
"When I look at the VFW, I look at that building as a memorial…it stands for the people that haven't come back," said Verille. "Since y'all tabled this motion, 17 Americans have died in Afghanistan…that building is alive. It is for the people that don't come back."
Butts added, "It is interesting in the things that we have heard concerning this item. I am terribly sorry, from the veterans point of view, that it has raised such a discussion.
"I know there is not a soul in here that does not respect the veterans. I understand that you must watch the funds, etc…The VFW and the American Legion did not come here asking for a handout. We came asking for an investment. The money that you find to support the VFW and the American Legion is an investment."
"I'm all for this donation to the VFW," said Taylor. "We don't want to take this money to use it for a party…we have people here that need help, and we are doing our best trying to provide help. But you can't do it, if you don't have it to give."
Currently there are 30 members of the VFW, and all dues and majority of fundraising efforts go to state and national posts for their dues to keep a post in Trousdale County.
Chairman Mark Beeler reminded the commission that according to the 2010 Census, Trousdale has roughly 720 veterans.
District 3 Commissioner Mark Presley made the motion to pass Resolution No. 2012-100-301, which is directed towards the VFW, and District 9 Commissioner Richard Johnson seconded it.
Some commissioners questioned if this was a one time donation or would this be a yearly item, and Beeler said that to his understanding it was a one time event.
Others questioned the way the donations were presented in front of the commission, if it would have been better to be done at budget time in June like other non-profits.
District 9 Commissioner Mark White read from Tennessee Code Annotated 7-3-314. It stated, "Any nonprofit organization that desires financial assistance from a county with a metropolitan form of government shall file with the clerk of the legislative body a statement of the proposed use of the funds and the program that serves the residents of the county and a copy of an annual audit."
District 2 Commissioner John Oliver commented that he "would like to give the donation, but it would be better for the groups to present their donation request at budget time."
Oliver went on to ask if the VFW was in dire need of the donation today. Butts replied, "If we had know it was going to be a fight to get the county to support us, we would have waited…Do we need the money? Yeah we need the money."
The motion finally went to vote, and failed to a 5-14 vote, with District 7 Commissioners Freddie Banks and James McDonald, District 3 Commissioners James Chambers and Presley and District 9 Commissioner Johnson voting "yes." District 8 Commissioner Bill Fergusson was absent.
The commission went on to Resolution No. 2012-100-302, which is directed at the American Legion, and it too failed 5-14 without much discussion. Again Banks, Chambers, Johnson, McDonald and Presley voted "yes."
After the meeting, Post 4842 Commander Gary Walsh said," As veterans, we do not retreat when faced with adversity. We regroup, re-evaluate, formulate a new strategy and move forward. This is exactly what the veterans of Trousdale County VFW Post 4842 are going to do."
For more on Monday night's commission meeting, see the Feb. 7 edition of The Hartsville Vidette.
Managing Editor Marie Corhern can be reached at 615-374-3556 or by email at email@example.com.