The Berea City Council discussed the allocation of grant funds Monday evening at a special called meeting at City Hall. At issue was how the council would distribute $22,000 in available funds among 11 applicants. The city received a total of $53,425 in grant fund requests.
Early in the meeting, council member Jerry Little suggested the city request more budget detail from the applicants before the process moves forward. That kind of detail would give the council a better idea of how the grant funds are spent, Little said. Council members agreed. Little also introduced a motion to limit grant awards to $2,500 instead of the current limit of $5,000. That motion failed 6-2.
At one point, council member Emily LaDouceur questioned whether the council should be awarding city grant money to for-profit entities. Of 11 applicants, two are categorized as for-profit businesses, including, Boone Gap Outfitters and Moonlight Market on College Square, operating in conjunction with The White Stitch. Boone Gap Outfitters requested $4,425 for funding of a free Adventure Bus to shuttle guests around to Berea’s natural attractions, the Bereabound.com website, and the Trail Town signage project.
Moonlight Market on College Square requested $5,000 to cover advertising, printing of banners, signage, lighting and tents, and funding for their website. Ultimately, the council voted to exclude Moonlight Market from the grant process because it is a for-profit entity. Their application received strong support from Councilman Jim Davis, who said “I see it becoming one of Berea’s signature events.”
A portion of Boone Gap Outfitter’s application was allowed to continue in the process; a $725 proposal to enhance signage near local trails. Councilman Caudill noted it was a very good value for the city.
A proposal by the Madison County Health Department for a vaccination/health promotion event was also excluded from further participation in the process, since that entity receives county tax dollars.
Including Boone Gap Outfitters, that left nine applicants that move forward in the process:
• Sustainable Berea submitted an application for $5,000 to fund Harvesting Hope, a program to help women recovering from drug addiction. The application requests funding to help pay for instructors, transportation from Liberty Place in Richmond, appropriate clothing, notebooks, food and drink.
Berea City Council member David Rowlette noted that council recently established a rule that an applicant could not draw funds from both the Berea Tourism Commission and the city’s general fund. Sustainable Berea draws funds from the Berea Tourism Commission to help fund a Sustainable Berea publication.
Other council members noted Harvesting Hope was a separate program and that it should be an exception to the rule. All agreed the policy should be revisited for future years.
Also applying for grants were the following organizations:
Berea Kids Eat asked for $4,000 to meet financial gaps and to reach more local families. The organization provides free meals to local youths.
Berea Makerspace requested $5,000 to purchase a table saw and air filtration system. The non-profit provides work space and equipment for budding entrepreneurs who are members.
Room in the Inn applied for $5,000 to purchase a laptop, document scanner, wireless printer; office supplies, postage, training and promotional material, rental assistance and utilities for the designated registration site. The organization is operating through Berea Faith Community Outreach.
Berea Home Village requested $5,000 to provide assistance for seniors to help them remain in their homes.
Bereans United for Utility & Rent Relief applied for $5,000 to provide one-time grants to assist Bereans needing financial help with utility or rent costs. Ladouceur expressed concern about the operation of that organization, since it had not been running for a while. Mayor Bruce Fraley said the organization was back in operation, while council member Cora Jane Wilson emphasized how important the program can be to people in need.
Murals of Berea submitted a request for $5,000 to obtain materials, pay for labor, marketing and other incidentals related to the project.
In the case of the above entities, the council agreed to ask them to submit a budget outlining how they would use grants from the city.
Additionally, the council voted 8-0 to approve one grant request Monday. TLC Animal Rescue was granted $5,000 to remedy the cat overpopulation problem in Berea through trap/neuter/spay/return. The organization reportedly spayed or neutered 1,000 feral cats over the seven years they have been funded by the city.
The council will meet again in the coming weeks to consider the grant applications that remain in the running. At that time, the organizations will be invited to have representatives at the meeting to answer council questions.