Bringing in more revenue, more services via grants

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors has been discussing the possibility of hiring a grant writer for the county.
District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry originally suggested the idea during a budget workshop on Aug. 10.
“I think where we could improve would be if we had a grant writer, somebody who’s actually searching for grants and stuff everyday,” Perry said during the meeting.
“We have fewer grants right now than in my 20 years here,” County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said at that same meeting.
Perry made the suggestion again at Monday’s Board meeting.
He said a part-time grant writer wouldn’t entail a large salary, a large portion of which would be paid for by grants.
“If the money is there and we’re leaving it on the table, that’s a shame,” District IV Supervisor Farron Moeller said on Monday.
Lumpkin said that the position could be worked into the budget, if the right person with the right government experience was found.
“The better person we get, the better grants we get,” Lumpkin said.
Several departments apply for grants every year, and have staff that help with those applications, Perry said.
Hiring a countywide grant writer, even if they only work three days a week, would allow them to actively search for grants that are often missed. Christy Goss is the special projects administrator for the city of Picayune and spends part of her day applying for grants.
“I think we’ve benefited a great deal,” Picayune City Manager Jim Luke said.
Whether it’s federal, state or local foundation grants, Goss said municipalities and counties are classified differently, so many aren’t competing for the same funding.
“There are funding and projects out there for everyone of all sizes,” Goss said. “In the end, you’re always working for the good of your city.”
Goss said she could see the county benefitting from hiring a grant writer.
“I definitely think that the city benefits from grants because it allows us to have great things, including beautification projects, sidewalks for safety, and at a fraction of the cost,” Goss said.
“They become proficient and we send them to a grant writing school,” Luke said. “It allows the other employees to do their day-to-day operational work.”
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Board President Sandy Kane Smith said, “I think it’s worth a try, we could put a little money aside and see about contracting it out.”
However Smith also said he doesn’t always agree with grants, adding that sometimes they are a waste of money because the county has to fund maintenance of what was built after a few years.
“We take a look at that when we apply,” Luke said. “I don’t see where there’s really any huge cost afterward.”
Smith also said he doesn’t believe there are as many grants as there used to be, because of the national economy.
Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said he too supports the idea, as long as the right person was hired and grants continued to help the county, not make it spend more taxpayer’s money.
“I think we have gotten addicted to grants,” Holliday said. “If my house needs painting, should I come to you to get money to paint my house?”
Holliday said he wouldn’t mind establishing the position on an incentive basis, where the grant writer would be paid based on the number of grants they bring into the county. District I Supervisor Donald Hart said he likes the idea and has been discussing it with several grant writers.
“That was a brand new idea, and that was a great idea,” said Moeller.
Moeller said he plans to do some research but believes it wouldn’t take more than one or two grants to employ a full-time employee to do the job. The Board is set to hold their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 9 a.m.

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About Julia Arenstam

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