Horn Lake

Horn Lake is changing the way it will fund requests for donations to support school groups.

The Board of Aldermen decided that rather than have each group come before the body to ask for a specific donation, that it will instead offer each school a lump sum of money at the start of the school year from the hotel/motel tax based on need and let the schools decide how to spend the money.

“I would like to have it where we put it in the budget and distribute it to all the schools and all the programs,” said Ward 3 Alderman Jackie Bostick. “I think that would make it fair all the way across the board so we don’t have them them coming throughout the year unless it is a special circumstance.”

The change was prompted after the Board agreed to give the Horn Lake High School Choir $5,000 to sing at Opryland in Nashville, and approved another request for $10,000 for the Touchdown Club.  

“It’s not that I don’t want to give the Touchdown Club any money and then the choir come out asking for money,” Bostick said. “What I would like to see is the hotel/motel tax be distributed to all the schools.”

Horn Lake has two elementary schools, one intermediate, one middle, and one high school. Bostick’s motion also included giving funding to the three schools in Lake Cormorant.

“We don’t need to leave Lake Cormorant out,” Bostick said. “Even though Lake Cormorant isn’t in our city limits, 50 to 60 percent of students who go to Lake Cormorant live in Twin Lakes.”

Ward 2 Alderman Tommy Bledsoe agreed with Bostick, but reminded the Board that the money was dependent on the legislature renewing the city’s hotel/motel tax.

“I’m for it too,” Bledsoe said. “We need to inform (the schools) that it’s good for this year. But if it ever gets vote out, they’re going to be short $10,000 because we won’t have it anymore. So don’t be dependent on it because we don’t know if it will be passed or nor passed.”

Ward 5 Alderman LaShonda Johnson said she also likes the idea of budgeting money for each school.

“I think it is a wonderful idea to be able to share it with everybody,” Johnson said.

Johnson pointed out though that not every school will need the same amount because high schools have more extracurricular activities than elementary schools.

“An elementary school will not have the same needs as a high school or those that have extracurricular activities,” Johnson said. “But certainly there is a need.”

Ward 1 Alderman Michael Guice said the schools can still come back to the Board and ask for money if something unexpected comes up during the year.

“I know last year or the year before we helped buy rings for a championship team,” Guice said. “If someone wins a championship or there is a special trip they will go on that wasn’t planned, then they can always come back and ask us for assistance.”

Bostick suggested Mayor Allen Latimer meet with the principals, athletic directors, choir directors, and other departments to determine how much each school would need.

Latimer said he’s not sure the city can afford to give each school $15,000, but agreed that it would take the pressure off the Board to decide which groups get funded.

“I agree we do need a policy or a precedent of what to do instead of different groups (coming before the board) - and they’re all good,” Latimer said. “I’ve never heard of one coming in that didn’t deserve the board’s support. And you all have been very, very generous.”

Bledsoe asked how the city planned to distribute the money.

“Are we going to give it to them in a lump sum like the first of the year so they would know what they are going to do?” Bledsoe asked. “Or does there need to be a time when you give it to them?”

Latimer said he would prefer to give the money as a lump sum, but the Board still has a year to decide how they want to appropriate the funds.

“It would be nice to give it to them at one time,” Latimer said. “Here you are. This is yours. We appreciate all you do. We are  glad to support you. But this is all the Board can do for funds at this time.”

Johnson agreed that the change in policy is fair and equitable.

“I can tell you as far as working in a school, we will take any donation,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t have to be an astronomical amount. I know anything helps out.”

“It’s a good idea,” Latimer aded.

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