New grant process for County

PLYMOUTH - Federal regulations have created a new policy for Marshall County.

An ordinance enacted by the Marshall County Council and Marshall County Commissioners has finalized a new policy regarding grants. The goal is better tracking of all grant dollars that come into the county.

During Marshall County's routine yearly audit by the State Board of Accounts, auditors informed the county that all grant money awarded to and the subsequent spending of, should also be part of the yearly county audit. While most grants sent to Marshall County are kept track of, several types of grants were more troublesome.

The county has undertaken many infrastructure projects taking advantage of federal matching funds. The federal government considers such matching funds as grant money and requires counties to account for how it is spent.

While that money is tracked in the county many times those records remain with the specific departments where the money is used. The county will now require pre-approval of grant applications by the Commissioners and County Council for each department requesting them along with a program plan for the grant should it be awarded to the county.

The new system then requires reporting of all grant money awarded and records kept in the County Auditor's office to make them readily and instantly available for reference, particularly at yearly audit time.

With County Auditor Penny Lukenbill nearing the end of her second term - two terms in 12 years is the limit on the office imposed by the state constitution - she told the Council she is concerned with leaving behind complete records of all grant money for whoever may be the next Auditor.

Part of the ordinance also calls for any position that will be funded with grant money to also be part of the salary ordinance for the county before that position is filled.

Currently several departments in the county take advantage of grant money to fund or partially fund additional employees.

The move is intended to tighten the administration of grant money and be sure that records are readily available for state and federal audits by the programs that provide the funds.