Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
Franklin leaders met Monday night to discuss grant requests from 13 groups within the county requesting a portion of $40,000 budgeted annually for nonprofits. While the town of Franklin allocates $40,000 each year for nonprofits operating within the city limits, this year the town had 13 groups apply for grant funds for a total request of $52,250.
To get closer to the town’s $40,000 allotted amount, members of the Franklin Town Council discussed requests about which they had concerns. Men’s Teen Challenge of the Smokies requested $5,000 to fund operating expenses of phone counseling for those facing addiction.
Men’s Teen Challenge Mission is to provide men with an effective and comprehensive Christian, faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in order to become productive members of society. By applying Biblical principles, Teen Challenge endeavors to help people become mentally sound, emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, physically well, and spiritually alive. Teen Challenge offers a 12-month residential program for men struggling with addiction.
Council members shared their concern about funding the organization that specifically treats men, and that the organization isn’t located within the city limits. The request explained that last year, 353 calls were received and of those calls, 77 were from Macon County.
Because the board didn’t feel that the request met the requirements of specifically serving residents within the town of Franklin, they voted to not approve the request.
Mountain Mediation Services requested $1,500 to help fund the Macon County coordinator’s position. Mountain Mediation offers Medicaid appeals mediation, district court mediation, restore justice services for youth and training in community mediation. Mountain Mediation Services provide affordable mediation and conflict resolution services in the seven counties of WNC. Mediation helps individuals, family members or businesses resolve differences with the help of neutral mediators guiding the process.
Franklin leaders cited the nonprofit funding pool’s policy of not funding operation expenses such as salaries as their reason for voting to not fund the request.
Streets of Franklin Heritage Association requested $1,000 from the town for the one-time expense of purchasing decorations for the street light poles around Main Street. Hooks for hanging baskets had been placed on light poles on town, but due to the upkeep and watering required for flower baskets, the hooks have gone unused. Streets wanted to fill the empty spaces with hanging street light decorations that would have a seasonal theme.
Town Council members said that the need for hanging decorations was not on the same level as the other requests and there was some concern about whether or not the association met the requirements of the funding pool based on being a nonprofit. Town manager Summer Woodard said that the town budgets $5,000 annually for beautification of the town, $2,500 of which is allocated annually to organizations that maintain the gardens on Main Street and another large portion used to upkeep the flowers in front of town hall. Purchasing the decorations out of that fund could be an option for the town council to consider.
After removing the three requests causing question, the other grant requests totaled $44,750. Rather than increase the amount available for nonprofits, the town voted to reduce the remaining 10 groups by the same percentage to fall within the budgeted $40,000 amount.
The 10 organizations funded by the town include Appalachian Animal Rescue Center, Arts Council, Community Care Clinic, KIDS Place, Macon County Care Network, Macon County Historical Society Museum, Macon New Beginnings, Read2Me, Scottish Tartans Museum, and the Literacy Council.
Franklin Mayor Bob Scott said while the town funded projects such as the historical society’s request for a new roof this year, in the future he would like to see the town get away from funding capital projects or infrastructure needs through the nonprofit funding pool and instead let the Tourism Development Authority fund it.