'worthy cause' grants giving
Members of County Council voted
to resume making donations to nonprofit charitable
The grants program was ended two
years ago as an economy measure in light of county government's
fiscal problems. While those problems have not been remedied,
some members argued at a finance committee meeting on Oct. 11
that it is incumbent upon Council to offer at least token
assistance to organizations that also are struggling in the
ailing state and national economies.
"It's not a huge sum of money
[involved], but it will meet a real need in a timely fashion,"
Councilman John Cartier said.
Jea Street, who
proposed reinstating the grants program, said doing so will give
Council "the opportunity to make a difference with folks who do
The committee -- which, like all
standing committees consists of the entire 13-member Council --
voted nine-to-one, with two members absent, to have its policy
director, James Boyle, prepare a specific proposal. It
presumably will come before the committee for a final decision
at its next meeting, on Oct. 25.
George Smiley, who cast the
negative vote, did not object to the idea, but argued that, with
economy measures, including 2½% 'givebacks' by all county
employees, still in force it is presently inappropriate. "When
we have the money to pay them (employees) then we can give money
During discussion of Street's
motion there emerged a consensus that Council would tap its
$200,000 contingency fund to finance the grants. Boyle said
nothing has been spent from the fund so far this fiscal year.
If half the contingency fund were
transferred into a grants fund and divided evenly among members,
each would have just shy of $7,700 to dispense.
The previous arrangement was for
members to determine which organizations would receive grants
and how large the individual grants would be. The finance
committee had to formally approve the grants by a majority vote.
As far as can be determined, however, no requested grant was
Each Council member had $1,500 a
year to spend. The total available, including an allotment
for Council as a whole, was $25,000.
Council members were not obliged
to spend their entire grants allotment. Smiley, for one,
returned unspent money to the county general fund when the
former program was ended.