Levy Court will vote on a proposal to serve as the Dover Caring Communities Coalition’s fiscal agent, which would require the county to accept grant funds, administer the money to programs, and perform audits to ensure that funds are being spent properly.
A coalition of local elected officials, community members and school representatives asked the county to accept grants and administer the received funds to youth substance abuse programs at an Aug. 18 Levy Court commission meeting.
Natalie Way, director of Dover Caring Community Coalition, said these responsibilities had been performed for the past four years by Delaware State University, but the college recently decided not to apply for the last installment of a five-year grant that was set aside by the federal government.
The grant was non-competitive, and the coalition was required to reapply for approximately $100,000 each year through the federal government.
Way added she was contacted by a representative from the federal government and told to submit the grant application, in an attempt not to penalize the non-profit organization for the actions of the college.
Without the grant, the organization’s funding would run out in September.
“But we need someone to be able to take the money for us,” Way said, noting that administrative costs are built into the grant and that DSU had been receiving about $13,000 each year for administering the money.
The county also would be eligible for funds to recoup expenses involved with administering the grant, Way said.
Susan Durham, the county director of finance, said the county would be responsible for having audits conducted to ensure the money is spent on the items listed in the grant application.
“It’s certainly doable for the county,” Durham said, adding that the county had performed a similar service a few years ago for a county employee who had received a state grant for a program.
The coalition collects data on youth substance abuse, runs youth summits and leadership programs and holds annual town hall meetings on ways to address underage drinking.
In addition to receiving the $100,000 grant, Way also requested the county be named as the receiver of funds on a $2.5 million federal grant application and for the organization to use a 375-square-foot office in the Kent County Administrative Complex for meetings and administrative purposes.
Levy Court President Brooks Banta said commissioners could vote at its Aug. 25 business meeting to administer the $100,000 grant and evaluate whether the county has the capacity to accept the funds for the larger grant.
“We don’t want to overburden any county employees,” Banta said.
Commissioner Brad Eaby agreed, saying Durham wasn’t given enough time to fully evaluate the duties required in administering the grant.
“We just had some layoffs and a large tax increase, and we don’t want to increase our budget,” Eaby said.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to hold a public hearing and vote on the measure at its Aug. 25 meeting.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, Levy Court commissioners are considering changing an ordinance to remove a school surcharge fee from building permits that are issued to municipalities and non-profit organizations.
Since 2006, 19 projects from non-profits have paid the fee, which is a surcharge of 1.25% of the overall value of the construction. The funds were used to provide financial assistance to the school district that contained the development.
Only $71,000 has been collected through this fee from non-profit groups in the past three years, said Sarah Keifer, director of the county’s department of planning services.
She said the measure was meant to make it easier for these organizations to perform construction and noted that non-profit organization still will be charged a building permit fee, which is based on the value of the construction.
Levy Court commissioners will consider the ordinance again at its Aug. 25 meeting.