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18 groups vie for Town funds

Five minutes at a time, Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen heard a pitch from all 18 of its community grant applicants during a workshop Thursday, April 28.

The 18 applicants are requesting a total of $315,300 from the Town, which doles out community grants each year through an application process. Since the red-light cameras have been installed, their excess funds have gone to funding community grants.

This coming fiscal year, which begins in July, the cameras are expected to bring in only about $96,000. After personnel and operating costs, that leaves $36,000 for grants.

Last year, the Town handed out $156,000 in grants, including money transferred in from the general fund.

Garnering quite a bit of discussion was Farragut Business Alliance’s request for $44,000, which FBA President David Purvis said would fund a salary for a part-time executive director and the expansion of “Shop Farragut” into a year-long campaign.

“We’re asking for help to expand our focus this year,” Purvis said. The FBA is the organizing group behind Taste of Farragut and Red, White & Blues.

If approved, the Town would transfer an already-existing line item — $7,000 plus substantial staff time, according to Town Administrator David Smoak — for “Shop Farragut” into the FBA grant line item.

“The part-time executive director would take some of the responsibility off Town staff” who currently are in charge of “Shop Farragut,” Purvis said.

Also on the economic development front, Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce is requesting $15,000.

“The town of Farragut is our largest supporter. We don’t consider this a donation, but an investment,” said Chamber member Les Fout.

Chamber President and CEO Bettye Sisco said about 33 percent of Chamber members were located in Farragut proper.

Coming in with the largest request is Knoxville Area Transit, at $80,000. KAT runs an express bus line from downtown to Farragut’s Park and Ride Lot, part of which is leased from Campbell Station Wine & Spirits for $14,000 a year.

KAT director Cindy McGinnis said, “Public transit does not break even, ever.”

She provided statistics on KAT’s Farragut bus route ridership, which came in at 849 in March 2011, the most recent month for which data is available.

McGinnis said she’d like to see the ridership at 1,200, but added that wasn’t possible with the current Park and Ride Lot, which is too small.

Farragut High School Education Foundation is requesting $30,000.

Spokesman Jerry Martin asked that if the Town gave money to FHS — above its normal $10,000 grant to each Farragut school each year — that it would go to the Foundation, which would dole out money as needed to other groups.

But the Foundation certainly isn’t the only group from FHS to apply for a grant.

The FIRST Robotics team is asking for $5,000 and Farragut Dugout Club is asking for $35,000. In addition, the high school itself upped its normal grant request from $10,000 to $12,000.

Farragut Primary, Farragut Intermediate, Farragut Middle and Hardin Valley Academy each requested their normal $10,000.

Knoxville News Sentinel Open is requesting $20,000. Dogwood Arts Festival is asking for $10,000. Concord Adult Day Enrichment Services is requesting $5,000. East Tennessee Concert Band is requesting $4,800. Knox County Lions Charities is requesting $10,800 and the Optimist Club is asking for $2,500.

The Board likely will make a decision on community grants in the coming weeks as the Town prepares its budget for next fiscal year.


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