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Commissioners approve parks and recreation grant program

The Stanly County Board of Commissioners approved Monday a new parks and recreation grant program for municipalities in Stanly.

Commissioners Peter Asciutto, Scott Efird, Zack Almond, Lane Furr and Vice Chairman Tommy Jordan voted for the program, while Chairman Bill Lawhon and Mike Barbee voting against it.

The program will allow municipalities to apply for up to $10,000 if the town matches the grant on a 50-50 basis.

Funds can only be used for specific capital improvements. Among those are equipment, land acquisition and long-term equipment.

The proposal was amended by Asciutto after a measure using tax money was defeated. The program approved would not be a line item in the budget.

Towns will apply for grants but will have to specify their fund balance in the application. Commissioners will then approve or deny requests.

The grant process will be completed by Sept. 7 and municipalities can apply between Oct. 15 and Feb. 8, 2022. Starting next Feb. 15, 2022, grants will then be approved or denied by commissioners.

Barbee asked why the program was back after having failed straw votes at the workshop the week before. Lawhon said the new proposal did not have any money tied to it from the budget.

According to Asciutto, the grant money would be paid in three ways since the approval period is not until February 2022. Money could come from leftover funds in the 2021-22 budget, fund balance or be set aside from the 2022-23 budget.

Jordan, referring to Asciutto, said: “I think you have gone a long way towards doing something that I would vote for.”

Almond said he saw value in the program but would not agree to grant money to towns with large fund balances.

Lawhon said For Stanly, Inc., a private corporation who funds economic development in the county, gave $175,000 to Pfeiffer University for its new Albemarle building.

“They put their money where their mouth is,” Lawhon said of For Stanly.

Almond said he wanted towns to be required to add their current fund balance on grant applications.

Efird voted on the program, which he did not do last week because that program, as it was worded, could cause a conflict of interest. Efird works for the city of Locust as its planning director.

Since the new program required commissioner approval and was a county-wide program, Efird was allowed to vote. Jordan said he believed it would only be a conflict of interest for Efird if Locust applied for a grant. Efird could recuse himself from that vote.

Before calling for the vote, Lawhon voiced further concern about the program and setting the board up for “bad relations with municipalities.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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