SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Selectmen last week were lukewarm to a proposed change in the application process community service organizations must use when requesting funding at the annual town meeting in May.
Town Manager Don Lagrange proposed to streamline the process by eliminating all but submission of a letter stating how the funds had been used during the previous year. This would have been in effect only if no increase in funding was being sought. Otherwise the organization would have needed to submit the requested information.
Lagrange said that the 14 organizations that request funds receive the money with little opposition from voters.
“It’s an exercise in futility,” he told the board at their Oct. 11 meeting. “I’m trying to save legwork on our part and theirs.”
There was no concern about new organizations coming forward. According to Lagrange, selectmen have a policy of not accepting new funding requests.
Warrant Committee member Nancy Weingarten said the financial information required is a valuable tool for the committee to use when making recommendations on the budget.
“We had some real issues over some of the organizations and the way they manage their money,” Weingarten said in arguing against the change.
Two selectmen, Lydia Goetze and Dan Norwood, said they felt it was important to have the full information of what they called “the big four” organizations – the Southwest Harbor Public Library, Harbor House, the Southwest Harbor-Tremont Ambulance Service and the Island Explorer bus service.
At the May town meeting, voters approved for the 2016-2017 budget $55,000 for the library, $59,640 for Harbor House’s youth center and recreation programs, $57,500 for the ambulance service and $10,000 for the Island Explorer. Funding for the remaining 10 organizations totaled $21,824 and ranged from $1,000 for Hospice of Hancock County to $3,574 for the Washington-Hancock Community Agency.
In the end, selectmen decided to leave the application process in place for all of the organizations, not just “the big four.”
The process requires organizations to submit before Dec. 1 a petition signed by 25 registered voters in the town, a financial report, an audit statement or letter stating there has not been an audit, the projected or most recent budget and a letter detailing the benefits of the organization to Southwest Harbor.