Council discusses fees

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) discussed the possibility of raising membership dues by roughly $3,000 in order to waive grant writing fees for member localities, which would mean that governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations from Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Lunenburg and Prince Edward counties would be able to receive free grant writing services. According to the CRC Executive Director Melody Foster, current membership dues are approximately $15,700.

“I think the only thing that might draw the line… is if you get something that’s totally private that maybe is for profit,” Foster said regarding who in membership localities would be able to apply for grants through the CRC’s grant writing services.

Lunenburg County Administrator Tracy Gee asked if it would be a vetting process at the local level.

CRC Vice-Chairman and Buckingham District 4 Supervisor Morgan Dunnavant said it was possible that the council requires that it’s a “quasi county agency or a nonprofit civic organized based group like Historic Buckingham or something like that for the CRC to initially deal with them.”

The council discussed possibly allowing the CRC to go through respective county administrators for verification of a certain organization.

“It still gets it back to the people at home,” Dunnavant said. “The county administrator and then if they have reservations about it then they can pull it to the elected board meeting and deal with it that way.”

Membership localities would have to approve the increase in membership dues.

Dunnavant said if that were to happen the CRC would be subsidized by the administration of the grants. The CRC receives money from grants that are approved, which means that if approved they would take money from the grant and not from the entity that they are writing the grant for, unlike now where they charge for grant writing services in addition to grant administration fees.

“If we get enough participation and enough people coming to us, you know, profit is in volume, we’re a government agency we’re not supposed to make profit,” Dunnavant said. “So our profits are returned to our shareholders, our counties and our voters at reduced fees down the line. It’ll either work or it won’t work and we’ll have to drop back anyway.”

CRC Treasurer and Prince Edward County Buffalo District Representative C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. said when the council changed the direction of the board they knew that the first year was going to be a struggle, “Potentially trying to redefine who we are.”

“I think that this approach is a good approach in that redefinition,” Timmons said. “I think we can move forward here in a very positive way and benefit more of our locality members and maybe pull in additional members.”

Foster said the membership fees will be on the agenda for the Dec. 20 meeting.