Commissioners work on spending plan for Clinton County Legacy Fund

By Gary Huffenberger – [email protected]

WILMINGTON — Though no formal action has been taken, Clinton County commissioners are looking at a spending plan for Legacy Fund grants that has as a guidepost, in the first year anyway, 60 percent of allocated dollars going to local governments.

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 spending plan commissioners were working on Wednesday would provide the committee a framework with built-in flexibility in the awarding of grants.

In the Wednesday discussions, the three commissioners agreed on setting as guideposts the following categories: 60 percent for local governments; 21 percent for large grants (defined as more than $10,000) to charities/nonprofits; 6 percent for small grants (defined as less than $10,000) to charities/nonprofits; and the balance to administrative fees, believed to be higher the first year due to branding.

Commissioners said the percentage figures above are intended as guidance to the Legacy Fund Committee, while at the same time it’s important the committee not be locked inside a box when deciding on grant awards.

So, for example, the Legacy Fund Committee would not have to award all or even any of the 6 percent in the category of small grants if submitted applications in that category did not merit a grant. In that situation, the money not awarded could be moved to another grant category that year.

Local governments that are expected to be eligible to apply for Legacy Fund grants, based on Wednesday’s talk, are local townships, villages, fire districts, and the city of Wilmington.

Commissioners said local governments around the county have strong needs.

“Townships and villages, we all agree, are in dire need,” Clinton County Commissioners President Brenda K. Woods said.

A key reason to offer both smaller and larger grants, said Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty, is so that small grant applications do not end up competing against large grant applications from more established or larger organizations, and as a result perhaps getting squeezed out.

Every venture was a start-up at some time, McCarty said, adding he did not want the grant application process to be a David and Goliath situation. Besides, he said, a start-up may, in the long run, be among the best grant recipient candidates for the benefit of local residents.

McCarty said he doesn’t regard the spending plan as static. It can be changed in the future as strengths and weaknesses are found.

Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed, at one point in the discussion, said, for his part, grant funds should not be used for an organization’s personnel costs.

He also agrees with the 60 percent for government grants.

“They [local government entities] are the ones that provide for the health, safety and wellness on a regular, consistent basis for citizens, whether it’s townships, villages, the city, fire departments, EMS. They are the ones on the front lines,” Steed said.

The Clinton County Legacy Fund consists of money received from selling county-owned Clinton Memorial Hospital.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 9376-556-5768.