County Considers Tightening Grant Policies
Published: April 9th, 2014
By: Shawn Magrath

CHENANGO COUNTY – The Chenango County Department of Planning and Development is taking measures it says will help prevent abuse of funds granted to local nonprofits for economic development purposes.

Chenango County Planning Director Donna Jones met with the Planning and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday to discuss pending changes to policies and procedures related to economic development grants. Each year, the Planning Department allocates tens of thousands of dollars in grants – which are taken from an account fueled by the county's general fund – to nonprofit entities for the purposes of business development, business promotion and infrastructure improvement.

But without strict guidelines in place, the county has little oversight for those funds after they are awarded, Jones explained. It's possible that agencies receiving grants through the Planning Department's capital project account are not using that money for its intended use and rely too heavily on the county for more money year after year.

“There has to be some accountability on the part of entities that receive money,” said Jones. “The hope is to set parameters for this account so there isn't a question of funding entities that come back several years in a row.”

Members of the Planning and Economic Development Committee were presented a draft of new policies on Tuesday. The draft outlines responsibilities of the planning department to track capital project account activity, review fund requests, and present requests to the committee prior to taking them to the county board of supervisors for vote.

It also outlines the duties of the grant recipients, the biggest of which requires provision of financial reports and project updates on a regular basis. It also requires applicants to submit a description of their project in detail, and that funding requests from qualified organizations or municipalities be restricted to three-year intervals, meaning applicants will not be able to request money each year.

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