board of trustees consisting of elected officials -- Porter County
Commissioners and the County Council -- to oversee the investment of the
Porter Memorial Hospital sale principal while the other is governed by a
private board made up of 28 representatives of different businesses and
volunteers throughout the county to distribute thousands of dollars in
donations to local nonprofit groups and causes.
But the two
Foundations may form a partnership to give grants from the interest earnings
made from the hospital sale investment.
On Tuesday, the
County Council and Commissioners invited PCCF President and CEO William
Higbie to share what the process is like to administer grants so that they
could better strategize what steps to take in establishing a grant
application process for the interest funds. That is, if they decide to have
“We need to find if
this is something we want to do on our own or if this is something we want
to partner with as a community foundation,” said Council President Mike
Jessen, R-4th, who chairs the County Government Foundation.
the steps of setting guidelines for who would qualify to receive grant
monies from the foundation, determine how frequently the grants would be
offered and would it be competitive, find out who is going to manage the
application process and be on hand to answer any questions that applicants
may have, decide whether a rubric will be used to score applications or if
it would be done more subjectively by discussing and weighinf each of the
applicant’s merits, communicate with the applicants the selections and store
and maintain records.
All of this can be
time consuming, Higbie summed up.
“There is a lot
involved,” he said. “We are happy to help in whatever benefits you are
trying to do in injecting some resources in the nonprofit community in
Biggs, R-North, surmised that if the Government Foundation was to operate
alone on the grant process, the County would have to hire someone to manage
it. “Our staff is not trained in this area,” he said.
Sylvia Graham asked what the scope of work would be based on how much money
is to be given. Higbie said he did not know the exact answer but said that
it would take the same time to give away $50,000 that it takes to give away
Advisory member to
the Government Foundation board Matt Vessley said the board should first
decide how many grants they would be giving out and how often. That would
determine how much work they will need to accomplish.
“It could be a
one-person job or a five-person job, depending on how many grants you have,”
Shurr Blaney, D-South, said that scholarship committees she’s been involved
with do require much time and effort in order to be done right.
Jessen, in the end,
asked Higbie to speak with his board and see if it would be interested in
the prospect of forming a partnership to work together on grants.
Foundation a committee consisting of Jessen, Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, Dan
Whitten, D-at large, Commissioners Blaney and Jeff Good, R-Center, County
Attorney Scott McClure, Council Attorney Harold Harper, and County Auditor
Vicki Urbanik, is to start work on what the guidelines will be for any grant
process. They will bring those ideas to the whole Foundation board at a
Foundation has faced mounting pressure in recent months to grant the
investment earnings from the hospital sale proceeds.
Supporters of The
Caring Place in May requested the use of money from the Foundation to help
pay for a new $2.8 million shelter as its current building is over 100 years
old and has structural problems. At the Foundation’s June 27 meeting,
Valparaiso resident Candace Shaw contended that the money from the
Foundation should go to assist nonprofit groups in the county and not for
Porter County Government capital projects.
The Council and
Commissioners interviewed two firms in the running to be the Foundation’s
independent auditor and selected Katz, Sapper & Miller, which is a CPA
accounting firm based in Indianapolis.
From Katz, Sapper &
Miller, Scott Schuster and Amanda Horvath said their firm is the largest
Indiana based CPA and has experience auditing and reviewing accounts of
nonprofit and government entities, as well as working with the Indiana State
Board of Accounts. Their client list includes the John W. Anderson
Foundation in Valparaiso and Pines Village Retirement Communities.
The other firm
interviewed was Kemper CPA Group LLC.
McClure said the
statute creating the Foundation requires the utilization of an independent
firm to audit the accounts. Porter County is the first and only county to
create a Foundation out of the statute.
“This is uncharted
territory,” said McClure. “We’ve got one foot in government and the other in
a (501c3) nonprofit organization.”
Voting to hire
Katz, Sapper & Miller for an agreement of two years, with costs to be
determined later, were the eight Foundation members present. Absent from the
meeting were Whitten and Good.
Foundation will be taking applications to replace advisory member David Rose
who retired from Horizon Bank. The appointment would need to be a bank
employee from Porter County.