As Vice Chair of the Marshall County Caring Needline it has been brought to my attention that Needline stands to lose the Christmas light show at Mike Miller Park (which raises about $50,000 in cash and 32,000-35,000 food items) as well as having our support drastically cut from the Marshall County Fiscal Court. The light show that Needline has run for many years is our primary fundraiser to address needs of the citizens in our county that are struggling, primarily the very old and young.
Much of this crisis is the result of the pension crisis that is before Kentucky Senate and House. As most everyone agrees, the pension problem has been an issue that no senator or representative has wanted to address so the can has been kicked down the road each year. As a result, the Fiscal Court is facing an additional annual pension fee of $900,000 from the state. This problem was not created by the Fiscal Court, but they are being charged by the state to come up with these funds. As a result, the Fiscal Court is scrambling to find funds wherever they can. Unfortunately, some of the easiest money to secure is that given to the county's non-profit organizations.
Under consideration is reducing the money given to the non-profits from $200,000 to $50,000 according to the May 6, 2019, Fiscal Court Budget Workshop Meeting that is available on YouTube. The discussion can be found after the two hour mark.
This is not intended as an attack on the judge or the Fiscal Court. They have a real budget crisis of their own with this pension bill from the state. The judge has shown great leadership in helping many of the nonprofits with a series of nonprofit trainings he provided around the end of last year. I heard nothing but praise from this training. The judge is trying to help the nonprofits become better equipped to secure money from other sources as the Fiscal Court continues to be squeezed from the state.
However, it is unrealistic if one thinks many of these nonprofits are going to immediately be able to raise the funds they need right out of the gate. There is a learning curve with this kind of fundraising and it takes time to develop these skills. A better course would be to continue to work with the nonprofits to help them develop their skills in fundraising over a period of several years.
On top of this we have been told that the major source of Needline's fundraising (the Christmas Light Show) is being taken over by the park and taken away from Needline, and will be split up among five nonprofits. That could take Needline's fundraising from this one effort from $50,000 to $10,000 while the number of people we are serving continues to grow each year.
In 2018 Needline served 13,726 individuals or 6,288 households, all of whom are verified to be at or below the government's poverty level. Needline coordinates the federal government's commodity and emergency assistance providing necessary assistance with food, utilities, rent/mortgage, emergency and medical to these struggling families. Our numbers have consistently grown from 324 families in 1996 to the 6,288 families we served in 2018.
While encouraging nonprofits to do a better job of fundraising so they will not be so dependent on the Fiscal Court, it is discouraging to hear Needline's major fundraiser is being taken away. My plea to the Fiscal Court is please don't solve your financial crisis by putting the nonprofits in the county like Needline, Senior Citizens, and Marshall County Exceptional Center at risk who serve the most vulnerable people of our county.
The other purpose for this letter is to make the citizens and churches of Marshall County aware that we need your help to serve the poor and hurting of our community. We can no longer count on the county's assistance to serve these families. Marshall County responds to needs when they are aware of them, this was seen in our response to the plea by Marcella's Kitchen. As we help new efforts to help the poor, let us not forget those nonprofits that have been caring for the needs of the poor and hurting for many years, understanding that the funds that have been in place from state and local governments are drying up so that the few that are serving these individuals are doing so with fewer and fewer resources. Please consider becoming involved personally and financially as Needline and the other nonprofits minister to the most vulnerable people of our county.