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City CFO Recommends Tightening Rules on Council Grants

The way non-profit organizations receive city grant money could change significantly if the Louisville Metro Council adopts new policies recommended by the city’s chief financial officer.On Wednesday, a council panel discussed ways to improve the oversight of grant money. The meeting comes after Councilwoman Judy Green was charged with violating council rules by rerouting Neighborhood Development Funds.Speaking before the Government Accountability and Ethics committee, Chief Financial Officer Steve Rowland said that all discretionary spending should be reviewed by the city’s Office of Management of Budget, which does not currently monitor paperwork related to how grant monies are spent.“It’s our recommendation that OMB monitor all grants regardless of dollar amount. They’re all public monies and they should be monitored,” Rowland says.Currently, discretionary spending allocated by council members is monitored by the Metro department it goes through.Further, he recommended that grant monies should only be released quarterly, and not until non-profit groups detail how they’ve spent the money.The additional oversight would delay how quickly those organizations receive Neighborhood Development Funds, but Rowland says it will also increase accountability.“This will slow the process down. And you will get some push back from the people that you give these grants to,” he says.Earlier this month, Council President Jim King called for an audit of all grants over $5,000 from the last two fiscal years. The request came after leaders of a non-profit group said Green told them to ask for more money than they needed and to reroute that money at her discretion. If true, that violates council rules. The finance department has sent a letter to 145 organizations that have received discretionary funds, demanding the non-profits turnover financial reports within 30 days that detail how tax dollars were spent.