Civic groups respond to CW City Council regarding grant information

By Linda Dillman

Staff Writer

A handful of non-profit organizations in Canal Winchester say they did provide the necessary documentation for bed tax grants they received from the city in 2013.

During the Feb. 3 Canal Winchester City Council finance committee meeting, a list of applicants for 2014 grants was up for consideration. However, following a report by Finance Director Amanda Jackson, approval was put on hold pending further information.

At that meeting, Jackson said, out of all of the applicants receiving grants in 2013 and re-applying this year, only the Canal Winchester Art Guild provided all of the required data.

However, organizations including the Senior Citizens Club, Alumni Scholarship Association, Relay for Life, Canal Winchester Area Historical Society and Canal Winchester Human Services all said they followed the grant requirements as outlined in their applications and furnished all of the requested information supporting their expenditures to Jackson’s office.

“CWASA (scholarship association) provided a report to council,” said President Tom DeLong. “…CWASA has complied with every stipulation of the terms of the grant. CWASA has also been transparent about our use of the funds as council has asked us to be.”

Relay for Life Chairperson Melissa Weller said she personally submitted a 2013 Event Summary to Jackson on Sept. 11 showing direct and indirect expenses incurred from the annual event.

“I expressly included my contact information, in the event more information was needed to document the use of the grant money,” said Weller. “I worked closely with committee members to ensure our documentation was thorough and accurate. Our committee never received a request for further documentation.”

Canal Winchester Area Historical Society President Mike Ippoliti said he hand-delivered the organization’s report to a worker in Jackson’s office. Jackson was out on maternity leave at the time. The report contains a list of bills—including $5,057 for insurance, $62 for paper and bubble wrap, a $550 state of Ohio fee and $1,400 for architect service for the new barber museum—totaling $9,512.

The historical society was awarded $9,500 in grant funding in 2013 and recommended to receive $10,000 in 2014.

In an email dated Feb. 14, Ippoliti told Jackson, “The 2013 report dated 12-27-13 was delivered on 12-30-13 to your office. The 2014 application was hand delivered on 1-8-14.”

Jackson replied to Ippoliti via email, “We found the 2013 report. It was misfiled in a drawer. I apologize and will make sure council receives a copy.”

Canal Winchester Human Services Administrator Penny Miller said her final report for 2013 was submitted at the same time the organization’s 2014 grant application was turned in to the city.

“As required, the final report shared information about the way the 2013 grant funding was used and we were fully compliant with the purpose in which the 2013 grant was intended,” said Miller. “Canal Winchester Human Services is, and always has been, an open book. I have offered, on countless occasions, to be available to members of the city council to answer any questions they may have.”

In 2013, Human Services asked for and received a bed tax grant for $1,500 in support of annual events including Pack the Pantry, Football for Food and Pizza for Food. It applied for the same grant in 2014.

“The 2013 bed tax grant provided by the city specifically stated the city would be a sponsor of the event (Football for Food/Pizza for Food) in exchange for the $1,500 grant that was received,” said Miller. “One of the banners that was hung at the football stadium for more than three months shows the logos for all of the 2013 sponsors, including Canal Winchester.”

Miller said she accommodated all requests for transportation records and encourages council members to contact her if they have questions, concerns.

“To their credit, many council members have accepted that outreach and do contact me when they need clarification,” said Miller. “I can only hope council will take the time to understand all the entities that were included, to decipher the facts of the matter, discard quotes and comments that are not applicable to the topic at hand and then, hopefully provide grant funding to Canal Winchester Human Services.”

During the Feb 17 council meeting, Senior Citizens Club Treasurer Fred Bivens said he filed their 2013 report, along with their 2014 application on Dec. 19.

“I gave it to a secretary,” said Bivens. “It did detail and outline where we spent the money. I did not file detailed receipts; it’s difficult to get a receipt from a fiddle player, but we’re going to correct that.”

Jackson said the grant application process includes a requirement to submit invoices and/or receipts documenting expenditures and council indicated a need for more detail in following the requirements for all applicants receiving a grant.

Stevenson said the club is active and in the process of starting a scholarship program for high school seniors. He then launched into a condemnation of Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon’s comments made during the Feb. 3 finance committee meeting regarding the bed tax grant and transportation of club members to events.

On Feb. 18 Mershon responded, “I want to apologize to the Senior Citizens Club for the wording I used in the finance meeting. Obviously, I did not do a good job of getting my point across.”

Mershon said, aside from the $1,500 bed tax grant for the fall Football for Food/Pizza for Food campaign, the city provides Human Services approximately $48,000 a year for senior transportation to medical appointments, grocery shopping, etc.

“This program was not discussed at the (Feb. 3) meeting,” said Mershon. “Part of this funding also provides the Senior Citizens Club with transportation to a lot of their activities. I did not nor do I advocate discontinuing either program to our senior citizens. I was merely informing council of what services we already provide to the Senior Citizen’s Club.”

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