WARSAW — City Council moved forward with implementing programs that better assess requests for money from non-profit groups, and how the city oversees its finances.
Council President Diane Quance presented a plan on assessing how to review requests for funding from non-profits proposed by a new committee made of up council members Cindy Dobbins, Jeff Grose and Michael Klondaris.
The committee worked with input from Kosciusko County Community Foundation to draft a written policy that oversees how non-profit groups submit requests for the city’s annual budget process.
Until this year, the city sent out a simple application form to agencies who had previously sought and received money and then would entertain new requests. Representatives of those groups then appeared before the council and made their own pitches.
Council on Monday tweaked some of the wording contained in what will soon become standard paperwork for groups seeking money and agreed to implement the new program for the upcoming budget season.
In addition to an application form, the council is establishing a review process that involves a scoring system. It is also establishing a year-end review system that identifies the impact the money had, including how many people from the city people it benefited.
This year, the city approved $175,979 in funding for 10 non-profit groups. That represents 1.35 percent of the general fund budget, from which the money comes from, according to City Clerk Lynne Christiansen.
Kosciusko County Development Corporation, another non-profit, also receives funding But, that comes from a redevelopment budget, Christiansen said.
Officials hope to have finalized copies of the application form prepared soon, so groups can use it for this year’s requests.
Klondaris said he thinks the city should institute a cap of funding awarded to non-profits to a level that is 1.5 percent of the general fund, which works within the framework of the amount allotted this year.
Council is anticipating more funding requests in the future.
“We know for a fact that United Way funding is being cut for a lot of organizations, so we fully anticipate we could be getting even more requests this year, and we want to make sure we are doing the appropriate thing and we are taking all due diligence in how we are spending money,” Dobbins said.
The review process will include an interview with representatives of the groups.
Grose and Dobbins said the new policy will help the council make better decisions on funding requests.
“I think the point system is really going to help us be more objective in how we distribute funds. I think in the past, we’ve been a little too subjective and I think this is going to narrow it down for us,” Dobbins said.
Klondaris suggested groups who received money this year should submit an impact report this year. Council agreed.
Council members expressed appreciation for the role of Suzie Light, executive director of the community foundation.
Non-profits receiving funds this year include the City-County Athletic Complex, Warsaw Housing Authority, Beaman Home, Lilly Lakes and Streams, KABS, Kosciusko County Senior Services, Housing Opportunities of Warsaw, Warsaw Little League, Warsaw Community Development Corporation and Animal Welfare League.
Council also firmed up a new policy on financial management of city funds at the direction of BakerTilly, a firm formerly known as Umbaugh and Associates.
The policy sets up a “best practices” approach for areas, including budgeting and long-term financing, transparency in finances, debt policy, reserve and liquidity policies.
The changes are expected to improve the city’s bond rating.
According to Susan Borries Reed, director for BakerTilly, Warsaw will join two other municipalities in Indiana in adopting the approach. The others are Jeffersonville and Fishers. School districts are also embracing the approach.
Council made minor changes to the draft proposal and is expected to approve it in the near future.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the number of non-profit groups receiving funding this year.