By Linda Dillman
Organizations that received city funding last year must account for their 2013 spending before receiving a 2014 Canal Winchester bed tax grant
Canal Winchester City Council wants a tighter accounting of public funds received by organizations.
Out of seven organizations requesting a total of $25,275 in grants, Finance Director Amanda Jackson said only the Canal Winchester Art Guild provided specific documentation regarding their 2013 grant.
The other 2014 bed tax applicants include: the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society and National Barber Museum; Relay for Life; Human Services/Community Food Pantry; Alumni Scholarship Association; Senior Citizens Club; and Rotary Club of Canal Winchester.
“I don’t think we should give anyone any money unless they turn in a report,” said Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon, “and we’re running on a timeline. This whole thing goes back to not knowing what portion they’re spending on what.”
Jackson said all 2013 grant recipients were sent a letter asking for a detailed report.
The Canal Winchester Senior Citizens Club, which requested $1,500 but was only recommended to receive $500, drew the ire of some council members.
According to a project description, the seniors organization asked for funding to “expand current and initiate new events/activities geared towards improving the quality of life for Canal Winchester Senior Citizens. Programs include: community concert, entertainment and social activities, membership drive, mental/physical health and wellness events, soup kitchen/food drive.”
Asking for similar activity funding in their 2013 application—for which the club was awarded $500—Councilwoman Marilyn Rush-Ekelberry noted, “They were supposed to have a concert to benefit the food pantry. Funds we gave them for that were not used.”
Mershon took exception with awarding the grant while the club is also on the receiving end of transportation provided by Human Services.
“We give money to Human Services for drivers, gas and upkeep,” said Mershon. “They pick up these people for luncheons and activities. They are getting quite a bit already. They use the van for club activities. When you look at it, all the money comes from the city already. To give them service in other areas doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. You don’t even have to live in the district to join the club. I really think giving them the drivers and the van is plenty.”
Jackson said the historical society never turned in a report for 2013. Councilman Steve Donahue said, although there was a request for the Pizza for Food campaign and funding awarded for it and other Human Services/Food Pantry projects, the pizza was donated to the event.
Councilman Will Bennett said there are too many questions at this time to approve the grant recommendations.
“All of the applicants need to have more documentation of where the money went,” said Mayor Mike Ebert.
A decision on the applications is pending to allow further discussion in the finance committee. Members plan to invite the entire council and grant applicants to the meeting to provide input.