Clark County commissioners said Wednesday they want to have more discussion about how the Fiscal Court is legally allowed to use Clark County Community Foundation money.
The controversy surrounding how the Community Foundation money can be spent arose after an April Fiscal Court budget workshop where commissioners decided not to award any grants from the foundation this summer. Instead, court members decided that $82,000 would go toward replenishing the 2012-13 budget reserves.
Commissioner Rick Smith opposed keeping the Community Foundation money in reserve because he said a lot of the groups in the community depend on the money.
At a regular court meeting following the budget workshop in April, representatives from several local organizations that typically receive grants from the Community Foundation pleaded that the funds be released.
The court members adopted a first reading of the budget, which kept the $82,000 in budget reserves, at a May 9 court meeting. The second reading has to be adopted by July 1.
Smith brought up the issue during the old business portion of Wednesday’s meeting.
“I still think we should grant the money out, because that’s what the money was originally used for,” Smith said Wednesday.
Smith, along with Judge-Executive Henry Branham, were magistrates in 1998 when the Fiscal Court adopted the ordinance to create the Community Foundation and to establish how the money could be spent.
At a Dec. 30, 1998, court meeting, magistrates voted to adopt an ordinance that created the Community Foundation using $2.5 million in proceeds from the sale of property on Rockwell Road, according to minutes from that meeting supplied by the judge-executive’s office.
According to the minutes from that meeting, a stipulation to the ordinance states “ ... should there be a final court decision that the fiscal court cannot spend the income from the component fund for governmental purposes as well as charitable purposes that the funds placed in the Community Foundation be returned to the county’s general fund as addressed.”
All magistrates and the judge-executive at that time voted in favor of the ordinance with that stipulation.
Branham was absent from that meeting, the minutes state.
Commissioners also said they want to make it clearer that community action organizations that apply for the grants every year should do so for special projects — not for yearly operating expenses.
“I’ve had more phone calls and (been) stopped in Kroger about using the Community Foundation money for what it was intended,” said Commissioner Vanessa Rogers. “And so I’d like to look at giving it out, or at least a portion of it, this year. I’d also like for us to go back and look at the true wording about the wishes of people in the foundation.”
Commissioner JoEllen Reed said she heard from several community action organizations that did not understand that the funds are “to be used for specific projects, not as part of operating expenses.
“And I¿think we need to clarify that,” Reed said.
Branham said clearing up the confusion is a good topic for discussion.
The court will discuss the Community Foundation confusion in more detail at its next meeting, and members will read letters that community action organizations have submitted so far requesting the money from the Community Foundation. They will also look over the 1998 ordinance.
In other business, commissioners:
— approved a request from Larry Disney, chairman of the Winchester-Clark County Planning Commission, that the Fiscal Court sponsor half of an appreciation dinner for the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee. The dinner would cost $709, with the county and the city each paying half, Branham said.
Rhonda Cromer, director of Planning and Development, said the committee has met once a month for about 18 months, for two-hour meetings. The committee members were appointed to their positions on the committee, and they receive no compensation.
Rogers made the motion to approve funding of the dinner, and Smith seconded the motion.
“These people certainly gave many, many hours, and frustrating hours at times,” Rogers said.
Contact Katie Perkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.