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Greenwood OKs funds for nonprofit, transportation agencies: Council seeks greater accountability, documentation of services provided

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Greenwood won’t cut funding for senior services, bus routes, rides for dialysis patients and well-attended Christmas concerts.

The Greenwood City Council approved continuing to give about $95,000 a year to nonprofit and public transportation agencies, at least for the next year. More than 70 people attended a standing-room-only meeting, and most were interested in the council’s discussion of whether to renew funding to the same groups, fund new ones or withdraw any spending of tax dollars on those services.

The council decided to maintain the same level of funding it has provided for years, and decades in some cases.

With the approval, Greenwood wants more accountability over how that money is spent in the future. The council asked for more documentation of what services those groups were providing to the community, how much they were charging Greenwood taxpayers and what their finances were.

All the groups should make annual reports to the council in the future in order to continue to receive funding, council member Thom Hord said.

Council member Ezra Hill said he generally didn’t think it was appropriate to spend tax dollars on charity. Hill later said he didn’t object to any of the groups but didn’t think it was fair for the council to decide which charitable organizations deserve taxpayer funding.

The council had invited more charitable groups to apply for those tax dollars after Hord questioned why a limited pool of groups were getting the funds year after year, without asking other organizations if they could provide the same or better services for the same funding.

No other groups showed up to make their case for tax dollars at the meeting Wednesday, after months of invitations.

IndyGo, Access Johnson County, Johnson County Senior Services, The Social of Greenwood and the Greenwood Community Band representatives all pleaded with the council to continue to maintain the same level of funding that it has since the 1980s in some cases.

The all-volunteer Greenwood Community Band, for instance, relies on the city for $4,000 of the $6,500 it spends per year to stage 10 concerts in Greenwood, including at the amphitheater over the summer and in the high school before Christmas, board president Veronica Eddy said.

Johnson County Commissioner-elect Ron West, a member of the Access Johnson County board, and Greenwood dialysis patient Barbara Robinette argued that the city should continue to help pay for such social services.

Robinette said she lived in Greenwood for her entire life and had come to depend on Johnson County Senior Services to get her to life-saving dialysis treatments for the past several months, after she was diagnosed with kidney failure.

Senior services board member Ted Murphy said that the agency has made about 800 trips this year to a dialysis center on Greenwood’s east side. Johnson County Senior Services provides residents with other services that include loaning seniors costly medical equipment they couldn’t otherwise afford and telling out-of-state children how their elderly parents can find the services they need in Johnson County, Murphy said.

“I believe that we’re not just responsible for ourselves but also responsible for our neighbors. We’re supposed to take care of people whether they live in Franklin, Greenwood or elsewhere in the community,” Murphy said.

West said local government officials were not just responsible for good stewardship of tax dollars but also of people. Local governments should take care of everyone, including people in need who are working a minimum-wage job, he said.

The council approved keeping spending the same with a vote of 8-0. Hill abstained from the vote.

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