published Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Bradley County to review health grants

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Despite plans for a Bradley County Commission vote on Monday to determine funding for the Healthy Community Initiative's 2012 grant cycle, that funding will undergo more review by the county's finance committee after Thanksgiving.

On Monday, the vote was postponed after Commissioners Ed Elkins and Mel Griffith said the county's finance committee needed to make a recommendation on the matter before commissioners voted on it. They cited a past decision that HCI Committee recommendations should come before the full commission via the Finance Committee.

According to the postponed proposal, commissioners would have decided whether to set the funding for the 2012 HCI grant cycle at $107,000. That total included $67,000 set aside in the 2012 health grant program's general fund, plus $40,000 in unused awards from 2009 and 2010.

The HCI grant program -- which is driven by interest generated by the proceeds of the county's sale of Bradley Memorial Hospital in 2005 -- supports government and nonprofit endeavors to improve "the health care, wellness and quality of life of the citizens of Bradley County," according to the county's government website.

It's a matter of taking the long view on the grant program and getting "better numbers," said Elkins, chairman of the county finance committee.

Elkins expressed interest in averaging out available grant money based on anticipated funding of the program over two or three years. The intent, he said, is to ensure a stable level of money available for grant awards instead of possibly experiencing large swings in revenue.

"I just think that's a better way to do it, because there are some needs every year and there's some pretty good projects that are brought to us," he said. "I would hate to see us make awards this year and not have something for a very worthy cause next year."

In the meantime, Elkins said, there was no reason applications could not be submitted to the HCI Grant Committee, which has set a Dec. 14 deadline for receiving letters of intent from interested applicants.

Commissioner Adam Lowe partly agreed with Elkin's assessment.

"It doesn't quite stall our process with the letter of intent, but it kind of stifles us," Lowe said. "We need to do something soon, because folks need to know how much money is available."

HCI grants have funded a variety of projects since 2008, including improvements to parks and schools and providing needed equipment for healthcare and emergency services.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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