City officials are rethinking the city’s policy on funding nonprofit groups.

During Sandy Springs City Council’s Jan. 21 meeting, Mayor Rusty Paul asked that the city not accept any new funding requests from nonprofit groups for two weeks so the council would have time to consider rewriting its policy.

“The purpose is to make sure there is some objective evaluation,” Paul said. “Secondly, [we need] a full and complete financial accounting of the proceeds so we can evaluate the financial return on the investment the city makes.”

Paul asked city staff to examine how the city funds non-profit groups and develop a “more unified” city policy on the grants. He asked that the new policy be presented to the council in two weeks. The council unanimously approved the mayor’s proposal.

The city now provides $422,500 in direct appropriations to a variety of nonprofit groups ranging from $127,500 to Sandy Springs Youth Sports for maintenance and program support to $5,000 to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce for dues and support of special events, according to the city.

The city also budgets $50,000 that local nonprofits compete for. Those grants ranged from $10,000 for Act3 Productions to $2,500 for Senior Services North Fulton for a new kiln, city officials reported.

Paul said the city does not require the same financial reporting from all nonprofit groups receiving grants from the city. The new policy should spell out what is required “so everybody knows what the requirements are when they accept the money.”

Councilman Gabe Sterling said the city’s grant program had “sort of become a hodgepodge” over time.

Paul said city officials did not believe any of the money was being misused.

“There’s just some ambiguity in what’s been done,” he said. “We’re not saying anybody’s done anything wrong.”

City Councilman Andy Bauman asked if the review could include non-monetary city donations, such as the use of city utility poles by nonprofit groups to post banners.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.