Council votes to raise fees

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mike Hankins

Provided that the governing bodies of all member counties give their approval, the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) will raise annual membership fees from $15,700 to $19,000 following a unanimous council vote at its monthly meeting Dec. 20.

With the increase in fees, the CRC will provide grant-writing services to each of the member counties at no charge according to an agenda document from the Dec. 20 meeting. As condition of the free grant-writing service, grants that are awarded entitle the CRC to funding for grant administration.

The grant-writing services will be available to every government entity within the member counties and nonprofits (501(c)(3)), though the CRC has the capability to turn down requests for grant writing if they don’t meet certain criteria.

“Last Thursday, we had our board of supervisors meeting in Lunenburg,” said Lunenburg Representative Mike Hankins. Hankins is the Browns Store District supervisor in the county. “… There’s a person on our board who is very, very outspoken against the CRC.”

Hankins said following the discussion of the higher fees, this person stood up and said, “‘This is the best thing in 11 years,’ that he had been on the board and he fully supports it and is anxious to get back to vote on it and encouraged all the other members of the board of supervisors to vote for it.”

The agenda document cited that the CRC further agrees that at the end of each fiscal year, if the CRC Audited Cash Fund Balance is in excess of $500,000, the dollar amount more than this amount will be divided and returned to the member counties.

“This will begin with fiscal year 2018- 19,” officials said in the document. “Each year at the January meeting for the CRC, the council will review the fund balance and decide if the balance amount needs to be increased. This will be done with a majority vote of the council and does not require member county approval.”

The document cited that if a county joins the CRC after the start of the fiscal year, the amount that county receives as a refund for the fund excess of that year will be prorated. In order for this plan to go into effect, it will require a unanimous vote by the board of supervisors of each of the member counties.