The decision came as part of an effort to standardize the process for community organizations to request county funds. The commissioners said previously that they wanted a way to formally prioritize funding requests and to evaluate whether awarded funds are being used effectively.
Debra S. Murray, director of budget and finance, recommended assigning those responsibilities to the Gaming Office, which already has experience conducting oversight and performance-based evaluation of grant use.
The office oversees tip-jar gaming in the county and administers the distribution of gaming revenue to charitable organizations.
Under the plan, the Gaming Office will be merged with the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families, a "local management board" that oversees the local distribution of state and federal funding related to children and families.
The former director of the WCCPCF, Stephanie Stone, was recently promoted to head Washington County's new Health and Human Services Department.
Gaming Office Director James B. Hovis will direct the consolidated county Office of Community Grant Management, Murray said.
The plan outlines new approval methods for three categories of requests, including:
- Budgeted general fund contributions to community organizations will be recommended by a new five-member board and approved by the commissioners during their annual budget process. Each commissioner will select one appointee for the board.
- The hotel-motel tax fund will be distributed as follows: The Convention and Visitors Bureau will continue to receive 50 percent, and the county will continue to distribute about 36 percent of the other half to municipalities.
Of the remaining amount, the commissioners will administer and appropriate about 70 percent for economic development, and the Office of Community Grant Management will administer and appropriate 30 percent for tourism, cultural and recreational purposes. That office will also provide annual reporting to the commissioners and the Office of Budget and Finance.
- Other requests, such as one-time reimbursements for Little League expenses, may be submitted for consideration for funding from the general fund contingency. The Office of Community Grant Management will process applications and may award up to 10 percent of the general fund contingency for such requests each year on a first-come, first-served basis.
Ten percent of the contingency is $10,000, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.
The five commissioners voted unanimously to implement the general procedures, but some details will need to be worked out, Gregory Murray said.