Taxpayers should decide what nonprofits to support
There have been several articles in the Independent (the most recent being in July 8, edition, Page A3) concerning how our commissioners have 1) “worked” to identify nonprofits worthy of the receipt of local government funds and/or 2) the amount of government largesse that will be provided to the lucky recipients. As a retiree who is concerned about what our commissioners do with our taxes, I have several questions which all of us citizens need to pose to the commissioners and upon which we need to demand answers.
The first and most important question is “why?” Why are our commissioners giving our money away to private nonprofit entities? Presumably, these nonprofits are exempt from taxation, state and federal, so government “gifts” are a double deuce insult to the taxpayers who get hammered twice — once in that the nonprofits pay no tax and thereby increase our taxes and, second, by the fact that our taxes could be lowered if not for this and other generosity of the commissioners. Are these nonprofit subsidies in reality a type of political slush fund that helps ensure the reelection of the commissioners who “take care” of their favorite “charities?” I wonder.
All of us are pressured in our jobs, in mail, radio, television and telephone solicitations, etc. by nonprofits and various and sundry super fundraisers for nonprofits, and in a multitude of other ways for contributions to nonprofit entities — including religious entities. There are also numerous other nonprofit entities that are affiliated with various trades and professions and unions representing members. Most of us who contribute to nonprofits do so only after careful due diligence especially in view of the recent news concerning fraud in several nonprofit fundraising efforts. We also need to carefully retain our constitutional freedom to select causes we choose to support. One recent case in Maryland involved an entity that allegedly was raising money for veterans in a fraudulent scheme. We are also aware that even for law abiding, well-meaning nonprofit entities and umbrella groups, very little of the money contributed actually reaches the advertised, “intended” beneficiaries. Oftentimes, nonprofits are established to offer “services” that are duplicative of private and government services.
If local government decides to support nonprofits, what criteria are followed to ensure that the nonprofits are in compliance with all laws and regulations pertaining to the formation and operation of a nonprofit? How about whether the need is legitimate? How does anyone know how much income principals and those affiliated with the nonprofit receive and whether personal income is reported? We know that the IRS is undermanned and unable to properly regulate and monitor all nonprofit organizations; therefore, how much sense does it make for a local government entity to presume that it has the infallible and omnipotent power to know that its favored nonprofits are in compliance with the myriad of laws and regulations pertaining to non-profit organizations? Many of the so-called services are not provided by government and have nothing to do with the role of government.
The latest drama in this saga pertains to the commissioners desiring to “move” $196,900 from the “fund balance” within the general fund in order to fund the county’s “charitable trust program.” Apparently $176,300 of the transferred amount would be used for administrative costs, presumably the salary and office space for the “charity czar.” The article reports that the county has already approved $800,000 in grant money. In other words, our commissioners are whizzing away about $1 million of our tax dollars on a government boondoggle over which the citizens have no control. This amount will continue to grow like mad in future years and will become yet another slush fund for generating votes for the commissioners who approve this fiscally irresponsible conduct.
With all of the above in mind, we as citizens have a right to determine which non-profits we will support and which we elect not to support.
I close by suggesting that all citizens in Charles County demand the end to any use of tax money to subsidize non-profit entities and that our taxes be lowered so we can make our own choice as to how to use discretionary money that is obviously not necessary to the operation of our local government.