City Council suspends grant program in cost-cutting move

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council suspended its community grants program last week as part of an effort to save cash in the city’s general fund.

The city had $5,000 dedicated to the program, which provides grants to various community projects, in the 2011-12 budget.

In the first round of projects, the city provided $3,000 to various projects, leaving $2,000 for the second round, which would have opened for applications in December.

Prior to the first round of grants in July, the city budget committee had transferred some $13,000 to several community programs as direct expenditures.

The city had one inquiry for the second round, said City Manager Craig Martin, but no formal requests had been made because the application period has not yet opened.

The goal is to save as much as the city can in the general fund for possible future transfers, Martin said.

Following news that tax revenues had drastically fallen in the police and library levies, the city recently transferred money from the general fund to support police and library services.

Both funds are projected to be in deficits by the end of their current local option levies, which expire June 30, 2015.

“I think right now, with the budget concerns we have, it’s probably the right thing to do to suspend the program for the remainder of the fiscal year,” said Councilor Ron Rodgers, who called the situation unfortunate and noted the council could look at it again in the next budget cycle.

Some might say the amount being saved is small, said Mayor Craig Fentiman, and even if that’s the case, he feels the program needs to be suspended.

City staff are already holding off expenditures across the board, Martin said, except where the city cannot make do without paying for something.

The council voted 4-0 to suspend the grant program. Present at the meeting were councilors Rodgers, Fentiman, Marybeth Angulo and Mike Hall.