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WASTE WATCH: Tax Dollars Flow to Private Midstate Art College

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - This FOX17 WASTE WATCH follows the flow of public dollars to a private school. When the state makes a budget, every dollar gets a name before it's spent. FOX17 wants to know why $200,000 in state tax dollars were given to a private Nashville art college and we aren't alone. Watkins College of Art and Design is an independent, non-profit school with about 400 students. Administrators say the school's budget has been in the black for more than a decade. So why does it need your money? Lindsay Boyd is Director of Policy at the Beacon Center of Tennessee. It's a non-profit watchdog group that publishes an annual pork report. The money to Watkins got its attention.

Katrina Henry and Tamica Dillard are Juniors at Tennessee State University, just 4 miles from Watkins. They say if the state has extra money to spend, they should send it to TSU. We decided to see for ourselves. There's no doubt TSU's nursing building has been around a while. While we can't say it's mold, some of the ceilings definitely show signs of water damage.

Another issue when you're spending tax money is accountability. What do they do with the money? When you send public tax dollars to a private art college, who's even checking?

Martin Dillingham is the Director of Facilities at Watkins. He says your money is helping to replace the college's nearly 30 year old HVAC system.

As for whether it's appropriate to receive tax dollars, a statement from Watkins says its founder left the school and its original property to the state when he died in the 1800s. While it's independent, its Board of Commissioners is appointed by the Governor.

Since 1954, Watkins has received 13 grants from the state. That's about one every 4.5 years, and as far as we know those grants have never been questioned until now.

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