San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts has appointed seven citizens from his district to review County Community Enhancement Grant applications.
Roberts said he created the first-of-its-kind panel, “to add openness and transparency to the process of awarding county funds to non-profit organizations that through their services enhance the quality of life of the citizens of San Diego County.”
The panel will make recommendations to Roberts for the allocation of more than $500,000 in taxpayer money. The money is restricted to funding for non-profits. Roberts asked the mayors of the cities of Del Mar, Encintas, Escondido, and Solana Beach to each nominate two residents for the panel. These four cities are located in Roberts’ supervisorial District 3. He also asked San Diego City Councilmembers with portions of their district in District 3 to recommend names.
From these nominees Roberts said he tried to appoint representatives from across the district to ensure a balanced approach to funding. Included on the panel is the former Executive Director of the San Diego County Taxpayer’s Association, Lani Lutar, appointed based upon her background as a watchdog of taxpayer funds. Also selected for the panel are Cindy Weir of Escondido, Sharon Omahen of Encinitas, Shirley King of Del Mar, Rich Thesing of Tierrasanta, Ed Muna of Rancho Bernardo and Frisco White of Carmel Valley.
“Panel members represent District 3 communities from the coast to my inland cities,” Roberts said. “These are community leaders I trust to weigh in on the needs of their neighborhoods.”
Competition for county dollars is stiff, Roberts said. “The economy has made it even tougher for local non-profits to secure funding,” he said, “and we have a limited amount of money to award.”
This fiscal year the total amount requested by a long list of non-profits is $8.4 million. Each supervisor awards $536,000 to worthy organizations. There are five supervisors. That leaves close to a $6.4 million shortfall between the amount available, and requests.
Applicants range from organizations that provide services ranging from fighting domestic violence, promoting youth sports, organizing public community concerts, to education and children’s health programs.
The seven-member panel will make recommendations to the supervisor at a meeting on June 12 at the Rancho Bernardo Library from noon to 5 p.m. The library is located at 17110 Bernardo Center Drive. Roberts said the meeting is open to the public. “I think it’s important that the public have the opportunity to attend a meeting in which recommendations are made to award funding to community groups,” Roberts said. “This is their government. This is a good chance for citizens to monitor the process.”
Roberts said that if a member of the panel is a board member of a nonprofit that has made an application to the county, or has an immediate family member employed by an applicant, they must recuse themselves from weighing in on that applicant’s request.
“I will review the Community Enhancement guidelines with panelists before discussions about the merits of the requests begin,” Roberts said. “I want to fund organizations that provide the best return on the tax payers’ investment and assist the greatest number of citizens.”