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Statement from County Executive Laura Neuman regarding County Grant Process
“There has been a great deal of interest and misleading information being released surrounding the county’s grant process and how funding determinations were made in the FY15 budget submission,” stated County Executive Neuman. “My administration is committed to transparency and we have been open to working with the County Council in providing additional information. Selecting organizations to receive financial support is a discretionary process and we strove to hold ourselves to the highest standards for measuring individual need. The bottom-line is that there is a limited amount of funding available and we worked hard to be impartial and objective.”
Additionally, we met this week with the county auditor and a member of the council to discuss the selection and funding process. Unfortunately, a council member who has expressed interest in the process was invited but declined to attend.
The county attorney advised that the evaluation sheets used as part of the deliberative process were considered executive privilege and did not have to be released. However, in the spirit of transparency and cooperation, those documents were provided to the auditor, with evaluators’ names redacted.
During the deliberation process for awarding grant funds, we considered the expert opinions and recommendations of a number of our internal agencies that have long-standing working relationships with the organizations that applied. This was not required but was done in an effort to be unbiased in decision-making.
We provided to the auditor and council 54 pages of information related to the grant process, including copies of all completed applications, the departmental evaluation sheets, and other information.
The Office of Law further advised that the County Council is no more entitled to go behind the deliberative process of the County Executive in formulating the budget than the County Executive is entitled to gain access to the deliberative materials used by members of the County Council in deciding how to vote on that budget.
This year 53 organizations applied for grants, including 17 new organizations. Fourteen organizations were denied funding. The total funding request from all organizations was $2,355,187 and the total FY15 budget available to fund those requests was $996,700. We did not exceed that amount. In FY13, FY14 and FY15 the level of grant funding has remained consistent at approximately $996,500.