Wilmington City Council takes steps to increase transparency for all budgeted grant funding including the application process.
The ordinance comes just months after Council President Hanifa Shabazz was under fire for discretionary funds granted to former Council President Theo Gregory.
“It does comes after questioning and the awarding of discretionary dollars to the SBA,” said Shabazz. “It comes after that but it was always the plan to make enhancements from the very beginning to make sure appropriating funds were in line with our strategic process.”
On Monday, council members met with the Finance & Economic Development Committee to discuss the proposed ordinance.
Changes to City Code regarding such funding include the following:
- An internal file created for council members to account for new allocations. It’s expected to be updated regularly;
- Online Activity: City Council will post all grant funding allocations online for public review;
- Annual Reports: Officials plan to publish an annual report detailing programs supported by grant funding and approved by Council. The City of Wilmington Audit Department made the suggestion.
There will also be policy and internal control improvements such as a deadline to request grants of $5,000 or more. In the past, organizations were able to submit applications throughout the year, now requests will be taken from November 1 through January 15. Officials say to ensure everyone is on the same page, there will be an updated and clearer manual with grant funding guidelines. Shabazz believes it will help eliminate conflicts of interest and more.
“This is just the next step allowing the public to having more access to fiscal operations of the city, creating stronger communication among council members,” said Shabazz, who also plans to form a staff review panel to look at incoming grant funding applications.
Council launched its new website last week but improvements will continue throughout the life of the online database said Shabazz.