Giving It Away

The recent opinion handed down by the state's attorney general that says school boards can not make donations to non-profit organizations seems to have upset some within the education community. Both the Lenoir City and the Loudon County directors of schools have publicly taken issue with the opinion. Some board members from both systems were also unhappy with the opinion.

The root of all the dissatisfaction from some in education is due to the fact that local BOEs can no longer make donations to the Loudon County Education Foundation. The LCEF is a local non-profit civic organization that reports to provide certain support to schools, students and teachers.

The LCEF is I'm sure a very worthy organization however Loudon County is blessed to have many worthy civic organizations that provide untold support through out our communities. And surely most of these organizations would be glad to receive hefty cash contributions every year from local governments. But how do elected officials decide who gets the handouts and who doesn't? For the board of educations, that issue has been settled. School boards can not make donations to non-profits or others. OAG Opinion No. 09-46.  

One ironic footnote, a recent donors list from the Loudon County Education Foundation lists all those who contributed to the foundation and not a single elected Loudon County or Lenoir City official was on the list. Seems those elected officials are quicker to donate your money than their own.

What about government donations in general? The law provides within certain guidelines county and city governments may make donations to charitable organizations. But should they? Each year local governments receive many requests for donations form lots of organizations. Obviously everyone cannot get a donation. Commissioners and councilmen must decide who will get the money and who will not. But who are they to decide who is deserving and who is not?

There are certain service organizations like the Rescue Squad and the volunteer fire departments that provide life saving services through out the county that should be supported. But local officials should be very cautious about handing out tax payers money. We as citizens can and should be supporting local civic organizations then we can decide where we want our money to go.