- Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 16:00
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - Last month the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a $500,000 grant to the Town of Carolina Beach for their Boardwalk Improvement Project.
Last week it was reported the County sent a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the Town spelling out additional conditions to receive those funds.
After speaking with County Manager Chris Coudriet on Friday September 6, that MOU was in draft form and was only sent by County Finance Director Lisa Wurtzbacher for the purpose of discussion with the Town's finance director Dawn Johnson.
The draft MOU contained several conditions.
The first condition stated, "Use of Funds. The Town will use the grant only to pay for necessary costs to complete the construction of the Project. The County will disburse the grant to the Town in the amount of $500,000 as needed for completion of the Project when requested by the Town with accompanying invoices supporting the requested disbursement. Subsequent to the County disbursing the funds to the Town and prior to the Town requesting another disbursement, the Town must provide documentation of the payment of previously submitted invoices."
The second condition stated, "Use of Local Funds. The Town will expend its federal, state and local funds committed to this project, where possible, before requesting County grant funds."
The third conditions stated, "Financial Oversight. The Town will provide the County with certain documents when requesting a disbursement of funds from the grant as described in Section 1. Upon receipt of those required documents, the County will promptly disburse the requested funds to the Town. The Town will provide quarterly updates to the County regarding the progress of the Project and the funding uses and source for the Project."
The fourth condition stated, "Repayment of Grant. The disbursement of funds to the Town is considered a grant from the County for this particular Project. Should said Project not receive the required permits to be completed or if the Project for any other reason cannot be completed, the County will require repayment of the grant funds that have been disbursed to the Town within twelve (12) months."
The Board of Commissioners granted the funds to the Town asking for an annual report on the progress of the project.
County Manager Chris Coudriet explained Friday that, "Somehow a conversation between Lisa and the town finance director, which turned into a draft MOU that reflected the county’s customary business practice for managing grants to other units of government, was wrongly interpreted" and, " It was not then; it is not now our position."
He explained, "The initial conversation with the town finance director started because someone raised a question about permits for the project. Lisa in turned reached out to the director to determine the permits’ status and to begin a conversation about best practice terms and conditions acceptable to both governments. For effective management we need to have an agreement with the town."
Coudriet said the MOU is an evolving document based on ongoing discussions between County and Town officials and a document will be finalized at a later date. He explained, "The discussions were so preliminary that Lisa has not even prepared a document for my review or a review by legal."
The grant funding will help the Town fund a $1.6 million dollar project to widen the aging wooden boardwalk along the downtown oceanfront and make other improvements such as a splash-park and extending the walkway 800' to the north.