Johnson City

Johnson City budget may mean big cuts for non-profits

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Johnson City non-profits will lose thousands of dollars in extra funds if commissioners pass their current budget this week.

They decided Friday to cut more than $360,000 that would have gone to 25 non-profits.

The Salvation Army is on that list and has $32,166 at stake.

We talked to Captain Michael Cox who said they will rely on community donations and extra grants if the cuts go through.

"If the city budget was to happen, where we have to take the cut, we understand that there's still a great need in the community," Cox said. "We would try everything we can to keep from cutting any programs, any services we provide."

Cox told us the need doesn't go away even if the funding does. We were given the same message when we stopped at the Johnson City Boys and Girls Club.

They stand to lose the second largest amount of money of all of the non-profits, $32,400.

Summer programs are underway at the Boys and Girls Club. Matthew Branch, 17, is teaching kids about computers.        

"Not many kids possibly have the opportunity to be on the computer at home," said Branch.

Branch told us he knows how important these opportunities are since he grew up going to one of these clubs. Now he's part of the Upward Bound college preparation program.

"If it wasn't for the Boys and Girls Club, I don't think I would've been as intuitive into my education because they really pushed for that when I was going through," said Branch. "They wanted you to be the best you could."

Now the fate of programs at Johnson City's Boys and Girls Club may be at stake with thousands of dollars of their extra funds currently cut from the city's budget.

We reviewed the budget and found out there's been a downward trend of funding every year since 2012.

"We kind of expected some but to get all, kind of took us all by surprise," said Robin Crumley, the chief professional officer.

Crumley told us the money would have gone into their general fund to pay for utilities, programs and staff.

"Look at the part time staff that would represent and that's three to four staff, and you look at our ratio of one to 20 with our kids so you're potentially effecting 60 to 80 kids just overnight," Crumley said.

She told us they'll apply for extra grants and ask for more donations to raise the lost funds.

Matthew Branch said it's a worthy investment.

"I grew up in the Boys and Girls Club, it's a really nice program and to lose that you lose so many kids' opportunities," he told us.

Frontier Health stands to lose the most money, about $40,000, for their arts club program for high risk youth.

We reached out to them and received this statement from Kathy Benedetto, Vice President of Tennessee Children's Services:

"The funding from the city of Johnson City that we are losing is the local matching funds for a "System of Care" grant from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. This grant is providing an arts club for youth at risk of significant problems at Mountainview Elementary School. To date, we have served 40 children in this program, providing arts education, parent education and support to help these children access other needed services such as respite care, camp opportunities and additional opportunities they likely would not have access to.  

This is the first System of Care grant that this region has received and was made possible by having the local matching funds. The loss of this kind of funding will seriously affect our ability to bring in state or federal dollars targeted for local programming."

The final vote on the budget is this Friday at 6:00 p.m.

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