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MARIETTA, Ga. - Close to a million dollars from Cobb County taxpayers will go to area non-profits this year, and a local watchdog group is outraged.

The head of the Cobb Taxpayers Association says he doesn't want the county deciding whether or not his money should go to charity.

"The very nature of a charity is voluntary non-profit association," says Lance Lamberton. "Taxpayers should be able to make that choice and not have the county make it for them. What is it about voluntary that Cobb County doesn't understand?"

Cobb County commissioners have given the okay for 27 charities to divide a total of $963,695 in taxpayer dollars. MUST ministries will receive $30,520. Big Brothers Big Sisters will get $35,300. Other charities receiving taxpayer dollars include Safepath Children's Advocacy Center, Sheltering Arms, and The Tommy Nobis Center.

Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee says the non-profits provide services the county would otherwise have to provide.

"There's no way the Cobb County government could address the needs as effectively and efficiently as the non-profits," said Lee.

The Cobb Taxpayers Association has started an email campaign, urging commissioners to stop the practice that has been going on for some twenty years.

"We're not getting any tax relief and they're spending money in this way. It's irresponsible," said Lamberton.

Lee says the money is carefully monitored, and funds can be withdrawn from non-profits that don't do the intended work.

"There's a reporting process to make sure they're doing what they're supposed to be doing," said Lee.

The Cobb Commission has already proposed $963,695 for non-profits in next year's budget.

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