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Board OKs $20K in community grants

July 23, 2012

County leaders recently approved a $7,000 grant to the Lone Pine Film Festival to help fund buses for the event’s popular tours. Before the county approves another grant cycle, the Board of Supervisors will review its grant criteria to ensure fairness when selecting funding recipients. File photo

County leaders may be revisiting the criteria they previously established for the award of Inyo’s Community Project Sponsorship Grant Program.
During a discussion about how to dole out $20,000 among 11 applicants, First District Supervisor Linda Arcularius, who helped set the grant funding guidelines, said she was confused about why a three-person review panel chose which projects to fund.
Inyo County Museum Services Director Jon Klusmire, who administers the grant program for the county, said a total of $59,360 was requested for the $20,000 grant cycle.
The three-person volunteer review panel was given a rating system to rank each of the 11 grant applications on various aspects, ranging from the applicant’s objective, to the amount of community support and likelihood of success, to the benefit of the project, the resources that are available to each applicant without the county’s support and the overall merit of each application.
Ultimately, the panel recommended funding for six of the 11 applications, basing their recommendation on the criteria agreed upon by the Board of Supervisors several years ago.
The volunteer panel recommended and the board approved $1,000 for Laws’ Good Ole Days, which was seeking $2,000; $3,000 for the Millpond Music Festival, which requested $4,000; $4,000 for post-conference tours for attendees of the Outdoor Writer’s Association Conference, for which the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce requested $6,000; $7,000 for the Lone Pine Film Festival, which requested $9,200; $2,000 for a Music in the Courtyard program for the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, which requested $5,500; and $3,000 for the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce for its visitor center re-opening, which was originally seeking $5,000.
The panel did not recommend funding for the Inyo Council for the Arts’ request for the Eastern Sierra Community Film Project ($3,000); the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce’s proposal for an Exploring Inyo promotional video ($7,020); the Bishop Chamber’s Fall Event and Group Support ($3,025); the Bishop Chamber’s Fall Classic Trout Derby ($10,000) and the Eastern Sierra Youth Conservation Corps ($6,615).
Supervisor Arcularius said she was concerned that maybe the review panel decided to simply fund lower-cost proposals, regardless of their merits.
“It looks like the high-dollar projects were discarded, but that isn’t in the guidelines” the review panel was given, she said.
Klusmire said the review panel was attempting to spread as much money to as many projects as possible, and ran into a wall when some applications were clear that, without full funding, the project would not be possible.
County Administrative Officer Kevin Carunchio, in an effort to clear up the confusion, said that the criteria the review board is given does include looking at the community support and likelihood of success of each application. He pointed out that if the project depends fully on county grant funding, or is a first-time event, it won’t score well in those categories.
The guidelines also have a category that says if the county’s grant program is the only funding for the program “(1) what will be the return on the county’s investment and/or (2) what is the value of the in-kind services or donations being pledged to the event?”
Given those points in the criteria, along with what Carunchio has previously called an effort by the grant review panels to give the county “the most bang for its buck,” both Klusmire and Carunchio seemed comfortable with the recommendations made by the panel.
The board unanimously approved the recommendations by the review panel, agreeing to meet at a later date to review the criteria that is given to the panel.

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