Friday, June 14, 2013

Broyles seeks $500K for 'Meals' plan

Amy Broyles
So, last year, when Knox County Commissioners were on a spending spree, eating up that good surplus money (man, you should have seen finance director Casual Chris Caldwell cringe as they were doing this), Commissioner Amy Broyles convinced the board to set aside $500K in coin for the Community Action Committee to dedicate toward senior transportation.

She swore she wouldn't ask for it again.

And she isn't. Not really. But she is asking for another $500K in folding paper for CAC. This time, though, it's for the Meals on Wheels program.

As one commissioner joked to me recently: Last year she asked for the wheels, and this year she wants the meals.


Anyhoo, she told me that because of the federal sequester from earlier this year, the program lost “tons of their funding,” and now has a waiting list of more than 100 folks.

She said if the county put up the money it would take the pressure off the organization, and give folks a year to fund the mobile meals program and hire a consultant to work with the program and help develop professional, long-term fund-raising plans not dependent on federal resources.

“Frankly, I don't think those funds are ever coming back,” Broyles said. “And if you see the folks on the waiting list – they're very, very elderly – if you see the list it will make you cry.”

Well, what the heck. You can read the list right smack here.

She added that “this will be money for the elderly citizens who can't prepare meals for themselves.”

“We drive on the roads that these people paid for and now we're going to skimp on the basic necessities of life?” she said.

Broyles acknowledged that $500K is a ton of coin, but called it “very miniscule in the scheme of Knox County government.” She said the remaining surplus money – we could get as much as $12 million – should go toward paying down debt or placed in the reserves, something Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett has suggested.

My guess is the commission signs off on at least some of the money, although I've heard a few compromises that will be kicked around during Monday's work session that also sound pretty good.

There's is a chance, too, that the board approves all of the money (or none, I suppose). Last year my jaw – and many others – hit the floor when she asked for that much to fund transportation. But she made a pretty compelling argument up there on the dais and as local radio guy Hubert Smith pointed out at the time: Most of the people up there are a few weeks away from needing the services themselves.


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