Brown County commissioners propose steep cuts to non-profit that feeds hungry


BROWN COUNTY, Texas - Brown County's proposed budget shows a 66 percent cut to the non-profit Good Samaritan Ministries.

"To say I was shocked when I saw the proposed budget cut would be an understatement," said Leesa Stephens, executive director of the non-profit charged with feeding those living below the poverty line in Brown County. It doesn't receive federal funding.

"I think it comes from a misunderstanding about what we do with the funds that we receive," she said.

The cut comes at a time when Brown County commissioners are proposing a tax rate hike for county residents for what they say has been a spike in health insurance premiums and the state pushing unfunded mandates.

On Thursday, commissioners held their last public hearing on the proposed tax rate hike and released a copy of their proposed budget for next fiscal year.

Stephens, meanwhile, said she didn't know of the cuts until KTXS showed her a copy of the proposed budget.

"It wouldn't provide one month of food for our 'Food for Thought' program, which is the program we do for chronically hungry school children," Stephens said. "It wouldn't even provide for one month's food for our food pantry."

Precinct 2 Commissioner Joel Kelton said the non-profit didn't use any of its funds for 2017. He also said if the funding isn't enough, or if commissioners are mistaken, they would make it right.

This year Good Samaritan Ministries received $14,000 from the county. The non-profit spent $15,100 of the county funds it received in 2016 and $13,900 in 2015, according to the proposed budget.

Commissioners are proposing to give Good Samaritan $4,800 for the 2017/2018 fiscal year.

Stephens said the non-profit has been helping victims this week of Hurricane Harvey who've relocated to Brown County.

"We won't know the [financial] impact of that until probably later in September," she said.

Stephens said she hopes the 66 percent cut to its budget is a clerical error and that commissioners will amend the proposed budget.

Brown County Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. on Sept. 5.

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