ELIZABETHTON Tenn. (WJHL)- The Carter County Budget Commission is working on its budget for the upcoming fiscal year, but that currently doesn’t include thousands of dollars for non-profits such as the Elizabethton Senior Center.
Administrators like Brittany Shell, Executive Director at the Elizabethton Senior Center, are concerned about potential funding cuts.
Senior Center might not survive if funds are cut
“Carter County gives us about 21% of our budget,” said Shell. “With that cut, it would be very detrimental for us. We would look at staff layoffs, and we only have just a few employed staff. We would have to look at shutting down several days a week.”
Shell said about 30% of Carter County residents are seniors that rely on the Center’s resources. Mary Highsmith a member of the Elizabethton Senior Center, said she would not want to see the center close.
“I need to be with people, and it helps me to be with people to talk to,” said Highsmith. “It helps me, and I have good lunches here.”
The issue of a potential funding decrease is something Shell said she will be fighting.
“I’m angry, I think if any cause is worthy of getting angry about it, it’s something like this,” said Shell. “Because we’re eliminating services for seniors, we’re eliminating service for a lot of agencies that depend on this funding to serve the most vulnerable parts of our community. And I don’t want to live in a community where just a very select few thrive.”
Shell said the services provided by the senior center are vital to the community.
“Our services that we offer, our programming, our fitness room, our billiards room, our meals,” said Shell. “These are services that a lot of folks depend on and wouldn’t have anywhere else.”
The Elizabethton Senior Center also provides hot meals to seniors in need through the Meals On Wheels program. Shell said that if funding is cut, she won’t know how they will survive or provide hot meals for the seniors that come to the center.
“Our seniors deserve more,” said Shell. “They deserve better than what we’re giving them.”
Shell said it’s also a big resource for seniors to socialize and get out of the house.
“A lot of seniors suffer from depression and anxiety,” said Shell. “We have a lot of widows and widowers that come here, and they do so to get out of the house so they’re not isolated.”
Aaron Frazier, Chairman of the Carter County Budget Committee, told News Channel 11 that non-profits should not worry. He said county leaders omitted the funding in the budget to reduce the anticipated burden of a tax increase and likely will award the funds later this year from the county’s fund balance.
Frazier also said commissioners hope to fund nonprofits from county fund balance in July if they aren’t included in the budget.
The funding cut for local non-profits has not been finalized but could be decided on at the commission’s next meeting on June 19.