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Wednesday, 27 September 2017 14:59

Macon to receive $100,000 for community needs

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Macon County will receive $100,000 to be used for “community purposes” thanks to help from Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin.

County Manager Derek Roland recently explained to commissioners that during the last state budget negotiations, each senator was given $100,000 to put toward a nonprofit of their choice. As a former Macon County commissioner, Davis thought the Macon County Community Funding Pool committee would be the best bang for his buck since it awards funds to many local nonprofits.

However, the committee is not technically set up as a nonprofit — it’s an advisory committee appointed by the commissioners to award grants to community nonprofits providing services for county residents.

“Originally we thought this would be great for the community funding pool but as we got into the details of the contract we realized we can’t do that because the community funding pool (committee) is an advisory board — not a fiduciary — so it can’t accept funds in that manner,” Roland told commissioners.

His second thought was to have the county enter into the contract with the State Budget Office so it could claim the funding and then use it for the community funding pool, but the contract stipulations for the county raised some red flags.

“The county would be responsible for the actions of the sub-grantees,” Roland said, adding that the nonprofits receiving funds from the $100,000 pot of money would be required to carry hefty liability insurance as well. “We felt like some of the people applying for funds would be able to meet those requirements, but others wouldn’t — so that was an equity issue that gave us some concern.”

Lastly, the organizations applying for money would have to be a 501c3 nonprofit and some of the organizations the county has supported in the past are not 501c3 charities but still assist Macon County residents.

With the contract complexities, Roland said he then turned toward looking to put the $100,000 into a project that benefits the entire county. During the budget process in May, the county commissioners allocated more than $600,000 of its fund balance to complete a renovation project at the Robert C. Carpenter Community Building.

The building offers community space for public meetings and gatherings, youth sports, senior activities, gem mining shows, and more. The renovation project included a new roof and flooring, new energy-efficient lighting, new bathrooms, new equipment and furniture and improved sidewalks surrounding the building. The project also improved ADA accessibility in the building.

All that’s left to do is award a contract for the landscaping around the community building. After that work is done, Roland said the building should be ready for the public some time in October.

Roland suggested to commissioners that they use the $100,000 from the state to complete the work on the community building. The county will receive the funding on a reimbursement basis after submitting the invoices to the state at the end of the quarter.

“I think that’s a good idea, but I can’t help but to think of other communities like Nantahala and Highlands who don’t benefit as much from the community building in Franklin,” said Commissioner Karl Gillespie.

After further discussion, the commissioners decided to use the state funding to complete the project instead of taking money from the fund balance. Commissioner Ronnie Beale advised the finance department to submit the invoices to the state as soon as possible as reimbursement could be a slow process.

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