Clinton County Legacy Fund’s spending taking shape

By Gary Huffenberger –

WILMINGTON — A spending plan for Legacy Fund grants is taking shape, even as delving into the matter reflects how ticklish the job of awarding grant money can be.

In Wednesday discussions, Clinton County commissioners brought up a variety of factors that a committee deciding among grant applications may want to weigh during the undertaking.

It’s expected that a recently formed Clinton County Legacy Fund Committee will award the first grants in 2020, with about $500,000 available for next year’s grant awards. The Clinton County Legacy Fund consists of money received from selling county-owned Clinton Memorial Hospital.

Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said “a must-have” is the applicant identifying upfront a community need that its organization would deal with if it obtains a grant. This would include the applicant demonstrating in its proposal that, to some extent, there’s a real community need going unmet.

For Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty, it’s key for an applicant to specify a time the project would be completed by. It’s also crucial, he said, for an applicant to say how it would measure effectiveness of a funded project.

Steed suggested an 18-month timeline to complete proposed projects, with a maximum of two six-month extensions when there are extenuating circumstances.

Steed, McCarty and Clinton County Commissioners President Brenda K. Woods all agreed grant dollars should not go toward a nonprofit’s or local government’s personnel costs.

Woods noted that in the case of government units including townships, the state auditor’s office watches the financial books for irregularities.

According to a scoring rubric that commissioners like, a grant-awarding committee will have strong reason to financially support a request when it believes the proposed project or program described in the application is something the community needs now, and also strongly believes the organization has the ability to carry out its proposed work.

In the coming weeks, commissioners will continue to take up the drafting of a spending plan for Legacy Fund grants.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.