Jax PSG committee continues work on streamlining grants process


Rookie Jacksonville Councilwoman Anna Brosche, as chair of this special committee regarding the oft-criticized public service grants process, has chaired a number of meetings looking to streamline operations.

A rain soaked Monday morning saw another one of these meetings.

Attention, as in previous meetings, was paid toward refining the application process with a goal toward ensuring candidates offer meaningful information, submitted in a uniform way, such as a “budget narrative” section that would fit into a process approved by the Council Auditor.

The idea is to forge consistency among applications.

To further ensure that consistency, criteria for “disqualification” were established, with an eye toward removing the oft-criticized subjectivity of the scoring process.

Councilwoman Lori Boyer, a veteran of the pitfalls of this process,  honed in on what she saw as potential holes in the application criteria, including descriptions of what sections of the application “may include.”

As well, the potential of interviewing candidates for PSG Grants was discussed; Boyer honed in on what these interviews would entail, and pushed for a uniform process if interviews were conducted.

New proposed ordinance sections would refine the responsibilities of the grants administrator related to the mandatory application workshop for requesting agencies in January of each year, which would include a makeup session. As well, a courtesy review of the application checklist would be provided in-person, upon request, no later than ten days before the application deadline.

Boyer, in this section and others, looked to clean up potential gaps in the proposed ordinance language, in what appeared to be an attempt not to overwhelm this beleaguered board.

As well, potential changes to the appropriation timeline were discussed, including a potential move to an April 15 application deadline, and a pushback of funding recommendations until after budget (and after the internal appeals process). While Council would approve the allocation among priority populations well before that, this would eliminate the kind of itemized pushback that grabbed headlines during the just concluded municipal budget process.

Boyer raised issues here, too, saying that the appeals process would be known, since it is public record, before budget, which could throw off the process. She also raised issues with the scorers being given 90-120 days to score.

Here too, other council members raised issues with the timeline proposed, so this likely will be a work in need of further refinement.

From there, discussion turned to “priority populations and needs.”

Boyer noted that “part of our downfall” is in the determination of “priority populations,” with a gap being the “community needs that aren’t currently being addressed,” such as an unexpected introduction of a refugee population into Jacksonville.

Designations like “low income individuals and families,” currently used, strike Boyer as “pretty generic.”

Councilman John Crescimbeni pointed out that, in 2009, he pushed for an online database listing appropriations from governmental agencies for non-profits, to get a better grasp of how much non-profits are getting from the city in total.

He’s still waiting.

“It’s been six years,” Crescimbeni said, and “we may need to take more formal action.”

That anecdote indicates the tortuous process of bringing even modest changes to this process, and further changes will be hashed out next Wednesday, when this committee meets yet again.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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