At their most recent meeting, members of the Cache County Council voted to create a new grant manager position.
“The county has a decentralized grant management system. Department heads are responsible to seek out grants that relate to their functions and also then apply for and administer the grants,” said Cameron Jensen, the county’s finance director.
Creation of the position passed with a 5-2 vote on Tuesday, with some council members concerned about the cost of hiring a new staff member.
According to Jensen, having a grant manager can help ensure the county continues receiving the federal dollars it qualifies for. The grant manager may also be able to seek out new revenue sources.
“I think there is a concern on the part of the council that because sometimes grants can be a little bit onerous this way,” Jensen said. “Departments may be avoiding certain grants because they just don’t have the time or resources to go after them and manage them.”
Beyond that, Jensen said a grant manager can help ensure county departments are in compliance with grant requirements. Jensen said the county hasn’t had an issue with this in the past and that centralizing the role can help prevent noncompliance in the future.
A grant manager may also allow county employees to better focus on their areas of expertise.
Terryl Warner, a victims advocate from the county, said during the council meeting that she has very little time for casework because of the effort overseeing grants requires.
“Unless it is a major case, I spend an enormous amount of time managing grants,” Warner said. “I don’t have a lot of time to be a victim advocate. I could really use a grant manager for the county.”
In other situations, Jensen said it takes a long time to move grant funds into the county’s coffers. One example is the Federal Emergency Management Act money it qualified for after the flood two years ago.
“It took a long time to acquire those funds,” Jensen said.
According to Jensen, it wasn’t that county staff weren’t doing the work to file the grant paperwork, it was just that there was so much to do that had to be done in between regular duties.
In just the past year, James Swink, the county attorney, said grant management has become more intensive.
“They are just getting more and more complicated and more time-consuming,” Swink said.
According to Jensen, the county has opened the manager application and will seek out candidates until Aug. 21. Depending on how the interview process goes, they hope to have someone in the position by the beginning of October.