Wednesday, February 1, 2023

County Commissioners to vote on establishment of criteria for funding non-profits

New Hanover County Commissioners will vote on approving a new policy to help guide leaders when selecting nonprofit organizations to fund. (Port City Daily Photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)
New Hanover County Commissioners will vote on approving a new policy to help guide leaders when selecting nonprofit organizations to fund. (Port City Daily Photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)

WILMINGTON — The New Hanover Board of Commissioners faced criticism from several nonprofit organizations, as well as internal resistance from members of the board, after redistributing funding for several non-profits during the approval of the 2018 county budget.

The lack of directive when it comes to approving nonprofit funding at the county level has now led to the proposed creation of the Outside Agency Funding Policy, which the Board of Commissioners will vote on during its Sept. 5 meeting.

“This issue has been discussed off and on for the last 5 years, and this past spring, the board directed staff to come up with a model that was easier, transparent, and that involved the citizens,” County Commissioner Chairman Woody White said.

According to White, there has been little to no criteria when it came to approving or denying funding requests. In order to ensure tax dollars were being spent properly, audits of the different groups have been required by the county, but there are still concerns that led to commissioners requesting the creation of a more formal regulation.

“There has not been any real criteria until 3 years ago when I insisted that we at least should require audits and some structure to ensure that tax dollars were not at risk. This process will now be objective, and competitive, and will take personal politics out of the decisions,” White said.

The commissioners also wanted more oversight when it comes to considering which organizations to provide funding to.

“Over the last 20 years, various non-profits have simply been added to the list, with no real oversight or deliberation. Most have governing boards, but not all, and the process lent itself to patronage from commissioners simply funding their pet projects. We want to get away from that method,” White said.

The proposed document would set standards for policy, eligibility, application procedure, and reporting and monitoring.

According to the document, “Outside agencies and their respective program(s) must be a nonprofit or a governmental agency.” Also, according to the proposed policy, organizations that apply for funding must have been in operation for two years, and must have a governing board.

The entire document can be viewed online at the County Commissioners meeting agenda packet. The Board of Commissioners will meet Thursday for an agenda review meeting, and again on Sept. 5 for a regular scheduled meeting.


Michael Praats can be contacted via email at Michael.p@localvoicemedia.com

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